It takes a lot of stamina and a real hankering for a good deal to brave the local mall or electronics store on Black Friday -- the day after Thanksgiving.
Some may even say along the lines of running a marathon.
On what is traditionally the most crowded, frantic shopping day of the year, retail spots open at ungodly early hours and offer "doorbuster" bargains that last just a few hours or until supplies run out.
Lines generally stretch around the block depending on where you live.
Most veterans complete reconnaissance the week before -- clutching index cards with product codes, aisle numbers and maps of the store. Just as those runners who’ve run the course before may do.
If you're planning to hit some of the midnight or early-morning openings, bring Thanksgiving leftovers to nibble on or scope out nearby coffee and snack shops beforehand and find out when they open (i.e. carbo-load).
Many also plan ahead spending Thanksgiving highlighting "attack points" , certain key products and clipping coupons for must stop stores.
Dress in layers -- waiting outside can be cold at first, but you'll warm up soon from the sheer number of people.
Keep your wallet in a fanny pack and take a large backpack and collapsible dolly to stash purchases.
Get there early for a decent parking space -- crucial for when you're unloading your haul -- and to score a prime space in line. Always get to the starting line in time to get set to race. If you’re rushing around and not ready-everyone will pass you by on the way to the prize.
Check your race information website as well.
Not up to running the marathon with a group? well, many stores offer discounts on Cyber Monday which falls on Dec. 1 this year.
(The term Cyber Monday refers to the Monday immediately following Black Friday, the ceremonial kick-off of the holiday online shopping season in the United States between Thanksgiving Day and Christmas. Whereas Black Friday is associated with traditional brick-and-mortar stores, "Cyber Monday" symbolizes a busy day for online retailers. The premise was that consumers would return to their offices after the Black Friday weekend, making purchases online that they were not able to make in stores. Although that idea has not survived the test of time, Cyber Monday has evolved into a significant marketing event, sponsored by the National Retail Federation's Shop.org division, in which online retailers offer low prices and promotions.)
Find a place on the starting line with fewer people that way you can focus on your pace and not other people. Flock to a the less popular or out of the way chain stores to lessen your crowd frustrations as well.
And definitely know your map. Know which way your turning and where the finish line is. Get a map of all your stores and detail the quickest, most efficient route to each.
And don’t forget your water, gel-packs for instant energy and asprin for those unexpected aches and pains.
Runners, I mean shoppers, take your mark!