Hello BFAds community
Its always a special time when we whip out our camping gear, compile our lists and own the entire BF community with our always up-to the minute deal information, auto updating lists, as well as tips and tricks.
While there are plenty of guides on various BF aspects, I'm working to compile a definitive source for Making Friends in Line , and working (with?) them to your advantage. Of course I don't know everything, so please give me some of your input and suggestions.
I would like to keep this separate from any type of "Line Cutter Killer" info as these are two separate issues .
Making friends in line is a tactical art that is easy for some and advantageous for most. Of course, you'll probably have a time when some people are really talkative whereas other's like to keep to themselves. Since you will be spending a vast majority of your time in the line anyway (hopefully at front), you might as well try to recognize their type and be respectful towards their intentions.
So What are you here for?
This is actually my favorite, since its usually the first question I'm asked. I've noticed that if you're towards the very front of the line (BF 2k6, #2 in line @ BB w00t) things are pretty cool if you are going after different items, but hostility will increase as your distance in the line is coupled with "oh, so you want that _____ too?" Its not all over if you have the same interest, but its the line position that will make it a deal breaker or not.
You've done this for how long?
Get to know your line mate's BF history as this goes a long way. If you know how BF works and your new buddies know how BF works, it's a lot easier to say how things have been handled in the past and share experiences with the infamous line cutters , maybe rebates and such.
I can't do What?
I've noticed a lot of Joe Blows getting into town at 1:00 AM, after the line is Good
and Hearty and telling the early birds how things are going to roll with friends/family etc.
/* Last year, using some of the techniques described here and elsewhere, I knew alot about the first 20 or so (original) people in line (what they were there for , how long they did BF, etc). Some n00b tried to come up to the first group of ppl , me, and my posse and told us they would keep track of how many people there were starting from us all the way to them, and that he would get his lil' bunch if he noticed the line grow in our area. We asked him what he was there for, in which we explained to him using elementary math that he probably wouldn't get the item he was looking for because it was a door buster and they were pretty much called for. A healthy dosage of yelling sent him back to his car. */
If you are towards the front of the line (very front), and have soso odds of getting a limited quantity door buster, it'd be wise to ask "Are any family or friends coming?" I've seen many people turn this into a family affair so that Christmas time is filled with "we stood outside for x hours!", so youngin's or the elderly are likely to join in at a sensible, normal hour. The people in front of me had brought 2 more friends along who introduced themselves and subsequently made no effort to grab any of the "hot" items as the tickets were being passed out, so there really was no fuss.
Be the head Bi*@#
Honestly, if you get cut and do nothing about it you don't deserve to be in line, or at least get what you want. If no one else in your posse has designated themselves as "line cop", you might as well do it. If you all sit back while someone cuts any one of you then consider the possibility that all of your hard work is jeopardized. I'm personally easy to get along with in the first 3 or 4 hours but once it passes onto that Friday morning I don't tolerate much, and your line mates will thank you.
Why do you "let" people cut??? Why don't you confront them the minute you notice they have jumped in line? That is what we did and not one person got in before us!! You have got to stand your ground or people will take advantage of you! And if all else fails, tell the mgmt before they hand out tickets. If enough people complain about the same line cutters they are bound to do something. It worked for the few that tried to jump our lines. They were all forced to leave!
And something I find weird about BF, some people report terrible experiences with line cutting and poor line enforcement and unfair voucher handouts. others report no problems, some lines are really good about self enforcing others all the people just sit their and turn the other cheek.
In most cases more then just yourself is pissed about line cutters the problem is there is no leader, but once someone takes charge and starts yelling others join in and pretty quickly the person is overwhelmed with people heckling them and leaves. This needs to happen in more lines and then people will try cutting less. But it is all about that first person who encourages the rest of the line to be brave and speak out. Remember line cutters are preying on your passive nature, they know damn well what they are doing is wrong and bullshit they simply have no shame. They also know that most people are too passive to call them out and so they plan on getting away with it. You have to prove them wrong or you know nice guys finish last and don't get a laptop.
At the end of the day (night , Friday morning) you're all there for one(or 2 or 3) thing(s)
All of the ideas for friends on line SOUND great... but when it comes down to it, you are dealing with a stranger... not even a "sd friend"... who knows if you can trust them..
Everything is a judgement call. You'll be surprised how many Grandmotherly line mates have transformed into football players when the tickets are rolling. Is this a bad thing? Not really. Should it be expected? Yes. Don't expect your new found friends to think about you when the tickets are called and you said you wanted an Item. The real power and purpose comes from the time leading up to the ticket grabbing. Sufficed you and your team have thwarted any "boil" type formations, ticket distribution will be that much easier.
Last year, BB handed off the tickets at around 4 AM and the store opened at 5 or 6...not sure. At any rate, once it was said and done we had conversed about our new spoils and infact, only a few of the less popular doorbusters had been taken by those who jumped the line or confused staff. Oh well.
Systems that (don't) work.
Try to develop a system. Even if it doesn't work..atleast you tried? But really, systems do work usually between the first people in line. The staff usually could care less about some childish system (unless it involves PHP and and Sharepoint ) but it would be great if the initial peopole had some system on which they can agree and rely on. Be wary of those who detest a system that would work in theory. They may be planning something .
A Couple of Systems (Many Borrowed from "Line Cutters and How to Deal With Them"):
Staring Contest : Stare the line hopper down. Effect is amplified with additional pairs of eyes.
Taking Names : I've heard a few individuals suggest taking names. The only problem with this is that generally management won't honor such a list. If they don't, who cares?
My girlfriend and I got there at 7am the on Thursday and were #1 and #2. Basically, by the time 2am rolled around, people towards the front passed around a notepad and had people sign their names and they kept doing rollcall every 30 minutes to see if everyone was still there and if people cut in line.
And you are? : I consider this one a system since your line mates may only let in family/friends. Simply all that is required is yelling or banding together your posse early and often when individuals try to cut, esp towards the beginning of ticket time.
When best buy started handing out flyers there were alot of people who tried to get in line, but alot of people was like "uh uh he wasn't in line" and the best buy people told them to get to the back of the line.
Caution Tape : Self Explanatory. See the YouTube video " Roped Off", posted below. AFAIK This store had it roped off prior to customers lining up, whereas last year, my Best Buy simply had a "Line Starts Here" sign.
Flash Cards : This one is new for me. Apparently you purchase a pack of flash cards and hand them out to each of the individuals in line. I guess if enough of the first line people have one, I could see a manager or other authoritative individual upholding this one.
When the Wii was released I bought a $3 pack of number flashcards in the toy section at Walmart. There was 1 man in front of me, I handed him the #1 card, gave my son the #2, took the #3 for myself, and handed out the others in order as people showed up. It worked out awesome! About 15 minutes before the midnight release (inside Walmart) some white trash woman came in and barged to the front of the line despite everyones protests. When the manager (who had been there several hours prior and witnessed our "system") started selling the Wiis she asked for our number cards in order and refused to sell one to the line crasher, everyone that had waited in line cheered! It was a thing of beauty to behold.
Seal of Approval : One user suggest creating a stamp system to add a hint of authenticity .
I love the Flash Card idea too... but I think it would be even better if you also had a stamp... any old stamp, like a red smiley face or something. That way you could show it to the manager or even let the manager control it... then you would have like an authentication symbol.
Tattoo style : Perhaps marking one's hand with an obscure sharpie of choice ?
use a different color(not black, red, or blue) Sharpie and mark people's hands with numbers.
Sharing is Caring
This one can work for you or against you. If you do happen to bring snacks or goodies that you are willing to share, or even leave later to get doughnuts or something, make sure that you do it early or that you make sure everyone knows your leaving. For most, its nice if you bring something for everyone to enjoy, but hostility can raise from your good will, as certian individuals will see this as a way of gaining their trust to screw them over. This works best if YOU (or the person who has stood in line the longest) are the one delivering the goods.
Be the “coffee guy.” Last year, my mom came at 3 AM with 2 thermos’ full of coffee for everyone in line. I was 14th in line and got the 14th laptop certificate, but missed the *5* they had for the TV. 4th in line knew I wanted the TV and got me a certificate. Said – “Thanks for the coffee”! Tee hee – go mom!
Sometimes someone will bring a TV or perhaps a PC with controllers ect, Uno, monopoly , or whatever your flavor. The advantage of this is that having a big honkin tv or a nice setup will establish your presence and make it difficult for someone to say they were there before or cut in line. Some suggest bringing a portable poker set for a good time (Thanks zohyeahz)
\\ Stories and Tips \\
Also just try to be as friendly as possible with the people around you. I was 2nd in line at staples last year. There was a middle aged mother who was first in line but everyone knew how to play the black friday game. The first ten people in line makes friends with each other so you have 9 people watching your back in case someone tries to cut. Also if you have to step out of line for bathroom or anything bribe the person in front and back of you with free hot coffee or tea. It's usually so cold people will do anything for something warm.
A spirit of camaraderie will not only make the long, dark wait more pleasant — it also could prove to be a godsend if you must give up your place in line so you can run to the bathroom. You could offer to hold a place in line for your newfound friend in return. Here’s a potential conversation starter for you: The term Black Friday comes from the idea that retailers spend most of the year in “red ink.” The day after Thanksgiving helps them begin to get back “in the black.”
// This is a great idea of What NOT to do unless you are pure evil
All is well. I went home, was stepping out of the shower when my phone rang. The person who was #15 in line at TRU was able to get me a Wii (her friend was with her). Before I had left TRU she ran to my car and asked for my number and said if she found an extra one at some point she'd give me a call. Well, TRU screwed up and actually had 17. She got me one and I met her there and did a return and buy. What a great person! Pays to make friends in line.
Looking for other tips and things not listed here? Check out HookedUpStang's Guide to BF at Best Buy
// YouTube videos
I Chose a few YouTube videos based on their merit of showing how the line usually works (or dosn't?). There are tons of videos over there, but i'll save you the trouble of looking :
My Crazy Uncle on Black Friday (The first part is BS, Just Continue to watch, its relevant!)
Best Buy BF Style...
When in doubt use your spot in line as a parking space..???
Great Documentary Style Video of the Rush
Black Friday:Target - This one is one of the worst ones i've seen, considering the cutters. I respect BB in this regard because they hand out vouchers for big items an hour before opening, to prevent this trash.
BF News Story
Another Documentary done by Local News
One of if not the best representation videos of BF , IMO (NOT WORK APPROPRIATE!) 24 minutes
Great Video talking about line jumpers
CNet Video of the Rush : Best Buy
/// As if you arn't alredy scared enough, this is what you should expect to experience when you get inside the store. oh boy!
Insane Circuit City Craziness
Another Circuit City Sprint
Hillbillies gotta shop too..
Updated 10/17/07 - Added Videos
------------- This is a few of the topics I'll be covering. I'm going to do a bit more research and maybe some "Experience Threads" but I'm hoping to be a bit more informative. ---
Once your inside the store its a different ballpark. Take the rest of this guide with you to ensure you grab what you want!
Ok ok so..we all have seen the ads. Some of us are foaming at the mouth, while some of us are crying our eyes out because some of the deals are weak.
Whatever your flavor, if you have seen an item that you have to have, chances are fairly high that it won't be an "early bird" item, but its still a really good deal.
Why is this important to remember?
At some stores, such as Best Buy, vouchers are handed out for the "early bird" items at around 3:00 AM generally starting at the beginning of the line, less any cutters or boil people. The rest of the items, such as that really cheap box set of DVD's or a great deal on towels isn't considered an "Early Bird" item, and thus you will fend for yourself.
Chug Gatorade for the days leading up to BF (don't quote me lol)
AFAIK Electrolytes are good stuff for the body. If your not into the energy drink craze, atleast perform
your ritual to prepare yourself from the mental and physical anguish of fulfilling your unhealthy shopping fetish.
If you have the ads RIGHT NOW (and you do!), you already have a leg up on the competition. Use it! While the folks down the street are just uncovering the deals, deciding which one is best , you will already know what your trying to snag. Systematically plan out what you are going for. Obviously, if something is an "Ok" deal that you just want to pickup while your there, don't go for it first! Grab the hot stuff while its still on fire, then go to the tame items!
Learn how to RUN (not walk) // move with a purpose
If your not going to run, the guy in front of you, behind you, and on both sides of you will or has already started. Throw everything your mom taught you about walking inside out the window because it will not help you! Perhaps if your in a quiet joint like Staples you can casually stroll up to a moderately priced stack of low quality junk, but if you want it Really Really bad, chances are the 30+ immediate people in front and behind you want the exact same thing
Get your game face on
You don't have to be or even act tough, but you'll find that on the biggest shopping day of the year, people just don't care. Make sure everyone around you knows that you mean business, and that your there for a reason.
I think its relaxing or something. I don't know. I live in Seattle, with all the Bohemian Types....
Polish your high heels
Go ahead n' grab you some sweats and some sneaks...its really not about being pretty and High Heels look REALLY uncomfortable to walk in, let alone sustain your feet for extended periods of standing / walking.
Bring the (really) elderly.
Let them work on the x-mas albums or analyze the fruit cake. Honestly, if your going for the insanely hot stuff, bring your athletic cousin, not your mother who is unable to walk. It won't be as fun as you think.
Bring the wee youngins.
Same rule applies here. Now don't get me wrong, I know that you can't always avoid bringing tag alongs, but if at all possible, do so. Not everyone you tag along will have the same motives as you, and may not be as inclined to snag a deal as much as you are. Ever try to keep track of a 2 year old during the rush??
Try taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or perhaps just stay on your feet a little more during the this time. If you arn't used to it it can be a real chore, so might as well condition yourself now.
As in , plan the day of Thanksgiving, when all the common folk have access to the same ads you have in your hands at this very second. As said before, you know whats hot and you now where to get it, so use that to your advantage.
What to do once your inside of the store.
Once your inside of the store, thats where the fun begins. Either you see the last item jacked from the pallet with the swiftness of a fox, or you see a glimmer of hope as patrons pass by your spoils. Whatever you do, Act now, think later. If your the "Seek and Destroy type" like me, you will scrounge the store for the killer deals you crave and instantly grow eyes behind your head. If you like to ask for directions, you may do so, but put all of your efforts into finding an employee. They probably won't ask you if you need help, even if your sprawled out on the floor with a dazed look on your face.
If your going for one item, and its not a big TV, don't waste your time getting a cart. If you must get a cart, don't stop to look at the items you are grabbing. If you did your research, you know exactly what it is your buying, and you should only need to glance at the model number briefly, or the price tag to notice realize that this is what you came for. If you grab all of your items except one, and the store is already a mess, don't count on finding it, unless its a boring sale. While you were out grabbing stuff on one side of the store, the guys on the other side were tagging your items. Sorry, you should have been there!
Once your in the line, look through all the stuff that you grabbed (trust me, its a long wait). If its anything like my BB last year, they routed us through the appliance section, so there wasn't anything "hot" to grab, but you may see an item or two that catches your eye on the way out.
User pspetrini also offers some hawt tips.
pspetrini wrote:I find that organizing my list of purchases goes something like this:
1.) Decide if i want early bird big ticket items. If I do, i wait extra long in line to get the vouchers, if not i arrive accordingly. Once i get the voucher, i mentally move on to : 2.) Any non-ticketed item. These items are put into a seperate category because i know that if it doesn't require a ticket, it's every man for himself. I organize these by priority of what i want/what i think is going to be the fastest to sell.
For example, if I really want the Family Guy DVD set, the Tom Tom GPS, and some Dynex DVD-Rs from best buy this year, the first item on my list is the Tom Tom because it's a big-ticket item. Once i get the voucher for that, thereby guaranteeing I will have one, i move to the second part of the list. If i want the DVD-Rs more than family guy, i rush in, grab the DVD-Rs and then make my bee line to Family Guy.
Once all my non-ticketed items are secure, i'll go grab the Tom Tom.
I also find that items i'm on the fence about are better served in my cart right away. Typically, i'll be in the checkout line for a while and will decide on them there.
A special note about item placement
Of course, this varies by store, however keep a lookout as you make your way through the store. The stuff that is deemed really hot may be in an area that you may not expect. I've heard reports of Wal-Mart sticking laptops in the middle of the camping section? Craziness, i know , but going in before hand may not allow you to gain insight on a particular item. They may try to one up you all and place it somewhere you would never guess...
I'll go on to say that :
THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO MAGIC FORMULA THAT WILL CALCULATE THE EXACT TIME YOU MUST GET IN LINE TO GET A PARTICULAR ITEM. STOP ASKING.
It is up to you as to weather or not an item is truly hot or really not that big a deal. If its extremely hot, popular, or a really good deal, expect it to fly off the shelves. Don't assume that your the only one who wants it because someone else is saying the exact same thing. Its up to you to decide if its hot enough for you to stand in the cold for X amount of hours. If it is, prepare to wait. If its not, move on.