Black Friday is a shopping bonanza. If you want a flat screen for $500 you can stampede your fellow Americans for one. If you want a laptop for $199 you can push, shove, and riot through a Wal-Mart all in the name of Christmas cheer. But if you want to be a smart shopper, or simply have something to do when you are dragged to the store by a significant other, and improve your EDC stuff at the same time, follow these ten tips.
1. Buy batteries
The one predictable place where you can actually score good buys and improve your EDC stuff on Black Friday is in the battery section. Home Depot, Wal-Mart, Target, and Lowes all sell massive tubs of batteries, usually AA or AAA alkalines, for really low per unit prices on Black Friday. Lithiums are better (and CR123As are better still) but with prices as low as they are on Black Friday there is no real reason not to stock up.
2. Avoid knife "collections"
It seems that a couple of years ago one of the big boxes sold a 256 or 318 or 455 piece drill bit set, something so large as to be entirely useless, and all of the bits except for the four most commonly used sizes were nothing but black painted pot tin. This little tidbit seems to be par for the course for all of these GIANT knife and flashlight kits they sell at the big boxes on Black Friday. If you see something with 10 or 20 knives at a price of around a dollar a piece and with a vaguely rustic sounding brand name like "Mountain Trail" or "Wilderness Adventure" AVOID.
3. Set a limit for throw away and experimental stuff
You walk in and see bins waist high full of potentially cool looking tiny flashlights. Even the most jaded, high end flashlight snobs get stung by the bargain bee. But don't think for a minute that any of this stuff is worth it. Okay, once in a GREAT while you will find something actually useful, but that is 1 out of 100. So, limit yourself. Set aside $10 or $20 and get something, but don't waste a bunch. Getting that one item with sate your materialistic lust, without wasting real money. Who knows, you might find that perfect flashlight for your car kit?
4. If you've never heard of the brand name or even seen it in the store before Black Friday AVOID
See #2. I find it amazing that all of these brands, better suited for Harbor Freight, are all of sudden all over the place on Black Friday. If they are only in stores for one day a year, what chance is there that they will be there if the product breaks, say, in June? Zero. Plus really do we need to buy more junk?
5. Don't forget the small stuff
If you get these massive coupons and flyers, sometimes they are just a generic 10% or 20% off or sometimes they have a threshold to reach before savings kick in. In these cases don't forget the batteries, the mechanics cable keyrings (which I have found at every Ace around me), or other tidbits. Other great candidates: EDC maintenance supplies, like those mentioned here.
6. Mag lights are never worth it
They either: a) stink or b) are overpriced for what you get. Don't be tempted. They won't make a good back up to your back up to your back up flashlight. Even in that role your better off with a different cheap light.
7. Mag lights are sometimes worth it
If your going to mod it or drop in a super high performance upgrade, then the Mag lights are okay. The new TerraLux drop in hits 1000 lumens. So, for about $120 you can have a 1000 lumen monster (the cost of the light plus the drop in) with three different output modes.
8. Scope out the new stuff from familiar brands
There is a release schedule for all of the major brands and it starts with SHOT Show and other trade shows in the first quarter of the year and ends with the product releases in the last quarter, right around Black Friday. Surefire announced the brand new 500 lumen Fury this month. Leatherman releases the Sidekick and Wingman last month. None of this is a coincidence. Take advantage of the deals and see if you can snag a quality item at a discount price.
9. Check for loss leaders
All stores sell a few high profile things at or slightly below cost to attract shoppers. These are called loss leaders. Lots of commodities are used to lure people in--hard drives, USB drives, other stuff. If you can find things you were looking for in the flyers full of loss leaders, then it might be worth braving the hordes of stampeding people.
10. Buy a USB drive
USB drives are almost always loss leaders. Each year they get bigger and cheaper. Everyone can always use a little portable storage. So why not drop a few bucks for one of these?
Keep an eye for internet deals the following Monday as well. Its going to happen. Its inevitable, like gravity or taxes. Your going to go shopping, even if it is just for a second, so keep an eye out for a deal or two.