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Shop locally this ‘Black Friday’

Area businesses are stocking up for “Black Friday”, the traditional after-Thanksgiving opening of the holiday shopping season. Whether or not you are an early or late shopper on Friday, we hope you chose to patronize our local businesses this holiday season because the best place to start rebuilding our nation’s economy is right here at home.

For those who haven’t developed a strategy yet, the Alabama Retail Association offers these tips for shoppers headed to your favorite stores on the day after Thanksgiving:

– Spend some time Thanksgiving Day perfecting your holiday gift list. While the family is all around the table, note the sizes, specific model numbers or brands and preferred colors for the gifts on their wish lists, including the amount you are willing to spend for each gift. Also do some research online about the brands and products you want to buy to make sure what you are considering meets your requirements.

– Compare your gift list with the advertisements retailers run in your local Thanksgiving Day newspaper. Note which stores have the items you want at the price you want, the time the stores open and if they have even better deals if you get there at a certain time.

– Attach coupons you’ve clipped from the newspaper or printed off your favorite stores’ Web site to your shopping list as well as discount cards retailers have mailed to you. Check your last bill, there could be a coupon or discount card in there. Also be sure to take along your rewards cards, so while you are buying from your favorite retailers you are also earning cash back or further discounts.

– Plan your route based on the store opening times and the location of the stores. Pre-program your GPS for the stores you’ll visit or plan the quickest route on an Internet map site. Even though gas prices today are more than $1 lower than last year, you’ll save time and money if you plan your route ahead.

– Go to bed early or plan to forego sleep altogether, because some of the best deals will be gone before dawn. Doorbusters and Early Bird specials can begin as early as 12:01 a.m. and merchandise with the best prices may go quick. Plan to be there at least an hour ahead of the store opening if your goal is to get something that is deeply discounted and popular. Some stores will hand out numbered tickets for customers waiting outside for a certain product.

– Take the sale ads with you. Sometimes retailers will honor other retailers’ deals. It never hurts to ask.

– Once you are in a store, check for unadvertised specials. Many stores are offering unadvertised in-store discounts.

– Be prepared to stand in line. Wear comfortable shoes and clothes. Carry water and snacks. Get in the Christmas spirit by listening to your favorite holiday tunes in the car as you drive from store to store.

– Keep your receipts and know the return policy. Include the original packaging and parts with your gifts.