LAKEWOOD - If Black Friday shopping were an Olympic sport, Felicia Keeler of Falconer would be a contender for the gold medal.
After Thanksgiving dinner was over, Keeler, the mother of two young girls, joined thousands of others in Lakewood for some Black Friday shopping. High on Keeler's priority list were educational games for her daughters, as well as a Blu-ray player. And, after 10 hours of shopping, she had those items and more.
After four years of previous Black Friday shopping experience, Keeler had already done all of the possible prep work as she went into Wal-Mart before the 8 p.m. sales took place.
Falconer resident Felicia Keeler, left, and her mother, Chris Overturf, wait in a checkout line at Wal Mart shortly before midnight Thursday, to get prime Black Friday specials.
P-J photo by Liz Skoczylas
Hundreds of people entered the mall as it opened at midnight from Sears, which had begun its doorbusters at 8 p.m.
P-J photo by Liz Skoczylas
"I collected all of the magazine inserts. I have compared the prices between all of the stores to maximize my best results and what's better for my money," she said. "I checked into seeing if they do offer the price match guarantee during Black Friday, which they do. I went to the stores to scope out where certain items will be in the stores, so I know exactly where to go first."
Additionally, Keeler was armed with a map for the "big-ticket items" being offered by Wal-Mart. The store had put out a guide to direct customers to aisles throughout the store, where items such as televisions and Blu-ray players would be handed out throughout the evening as they went on sale.
At Wal-Mart, Keeler met her mother, Chris Overturf, with a game plan. For those not accustomed to true Black Friday shopping, Keeler recommends not bringing in a purse and avoiding using a cart or a basket to carry items, as people don't always move out of the way. Being a mother herself, she also recommends using the bathroom before setting out. And, she said to be sure to shop with a friend, to help carry large purchases.
"It's a learn-as-you-go thing. Everything changes every year. You pretty much learn to adapt based on past experiences," Keeler said.
After an initial sweep of the store to pick up Wal-Mart's 8 p.m. deals, Keeler and Overturf were each loaded with items. As the women separated to stand in lines for 10 p.m. deals, Keeler broke one of her own rules and accepted a cart from an employee as she waited for an LG Blu-ray Player.
And, after a 90-minute wait, Keeler was awarded with the item. As the crowd began to thin after the 10 p.m. rush, she and Overturf took the opportunity to take a final lap around the store before cashing out shortly before midnight.
"This year was absolutely insane. It was very hectic, very busy. Everybody was just on the go, moving," Keeler said. "Last year, we only went for one big item, this year, we were going for 15. So, it was really busy and really hectic, but it was absolutely a blast."
Included in Keeler's purchases was a Wii Udraw Game Tablet. The tablet sells for $38.50 according to Amazon.com. However, Keeler was able to purchase it for only $10 for the Black Friday deal Thursday night. Additionally, the LG Blu-ray player typically sells for $69.99 at the store, but was sold for $38 Thursday evening. And, a Vtech V.Reader was purchased for $20. According to the V.Reader website, the product normally sells for $59.99.
"(For) the big-ticket items, like the electronics, it is better to go out Black Friday, just because it is such a discount. You're not guaranteed to get it, but if you're willing to take the chance and invest the time, your chances are pretty good that you're going to get a great deal on it," Keeler said.
With nearly five hours until Olympia Sports, the next store Keeler had her eye on, opened, she parted ways with Overturf and made her way to Chautauqua Mall, which opened at midnight. At the mall, she planned to look for deals on clothes and bedding for her daughters. After meeting up with a friend, Keeler found shoes for each of her daughters at Sears. Typically, the shoes retail for $34.99, but had a Black Friday markdown to $29.99.
After finding that Old Navy was at its maximum occupancy, Keeler and her friend stopped for a quick snack in the mall's food court to refuel, before being admitted into the store. Following a 55-minute wait in the checkout line, Keeler was also able to purchase new clothing for her daughters at drastically discounted prices.
Finally, at 5 a.m., Keeler made her way to Olympia Sports, where she was once again struck with Black Friday prices, as she purchased Nike hoodies for her husband. The hoodies, typically priced between $42 and $55 were on sale from 5 a.m. until 2 p.m., to allow customers to buy one at full price and a second for $2.99.
"I'm surprisingly feeling wide awake at the moment, but I am extremely tired and very excited to get home to get to bed," Keeler said shortly before 6 a.m. "(I enjoyed) spending time with my mom and spending time with my friends. It's always great to get together and laugh and joke and just have a good time."
Despite pulling an all-nighter, Keeler, along with the thousands of others in the area who turned out for Black Friday deals, saved money in the end.