DOWNEY - As the holiday shopping season begins sooner than before, this year's Black Friday frenzy encouraged eager shoppers to search far and wide for the best deals.Many of my friends were adventurous enough to wait for hours before stores opened; some even began their shopping sprees on Thanksgiving night. With many loved ones on my shopping list, I wanted to be a part of the Black Friday experience so that I could buy gifts for more people without spending too much money. It was still dark when I reluctantly woke up to the blaring noise of my alarm clock at 4:30 a.m. I nearly forgot about my plans as I spent one last moment in the warmth of my bed. However, I soon geared up into my thickest clothes and left my home 30 minutes later. Instead of venturing to other cities, I chose to remain faithful to our local Stonewood Center. At 5:30 a.m. I entered JCPenney and immediately felt relieved because of the warmth within the building. My entire body was freezing from the brutally cold walk to the mall, but it instantly started to thaw from the heat. Not only did the cozy atmosphere welcome the early birds, but the camaraderie among the shoppers brought a smile to my face. I was pleased to find that there were hardly any chaotic situations at that hour. After roaming around the department store to become familiar with the deals, I entered Forever 21, by far the most popular clothing store available at Stonewood. The entrances were blocked due to the long lines that extended like snakes among the racks of discounted clothes. There were some noteworthy savings like $4 skirts and $7 jeans, but I decided to move on to another store. Since Forever 21's items are inexpensive even without sales, I did not want to waste my time in line when I could be saving money somewhere else. I entered PacSun at 6:15 a.m. and was greeted by a cheerful worker with a Santa hat. Even though this store is only a few steps away from Forever 21, there were not as many shoppers here. I was able to purchase a flannel shirt for my brother at a decent price of $15. The only tough decision that I had to make was determining which size to buy. I did not want to take the risk of coming back later and finding that the right size was sold out, so I thoughtfully made my choice and left within 10 minutes without having to wait in any lines. To my surprise, Charlotte Russe did not open until 7 a.m., the official opening time of Stonewood for this year's Black Friday. One passerby even claimed that the store opened much earlier the year before. I was one of about 15 people who waited outside of the doors at 6:45 a.m. In return for the late opening time, Charlotte Russe offered free granola bars and Red Bull energy drinks. On top of that, everything in the store was discounted from 25 to 50 percent. By 7:30 a.m., the mall was filled with the typical hustle and bustle of Black Friday. Although some hardcore shoppers were out of the mall before the sun started to rise, I was satisfied with the decent amount of sleep that I got while still scoring some great deals. The bargains do not end with Black Friday weekend, however. Nearly every major retailer continues to offer discounts to shoppers both in-store and online, so make sure to take advantage of them for a holiday season full of savings.
********** Published: December 2, 2010 - Volume 9 - Issue 33