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Survival tips from the front line of Black Friday, courtesy a Best Buy manager

When it comes to shopping on Black Friday, Best Buy store manager Joe Hegeduis says to read the ads ahead of time to see what items likely will sell out quickly. TVs usually go fast.
When it comes to shopping on Black Friday, Best Buy store manager Joe Hegeduis says to read the ads ahead of time to see what items likely will sell out quickly. TVs usually go fast. The Olympian

Some details to consider as we head into the Black Friday shopping vortex:

▪ The average holiday shopping budget is $943, according to LendingTree.

▪ Estimates of online sales top out at $2.05 billion on Thanksgiving Day, compared to $3.52 billion on Black Friday and $3.81 billion on Cyber Monday, according to BestBlackFriday.com.

▪ 73.1 percent of Americans can’t do the math needed to determine the real value of an advertised sale, according to a new study from online calculator source BlitzResults.

▪ Most of what you’d consider “Black Friday” sales started much earlier.

Given all that, we decided to talk to someone who’s seen a few Black Fridays and could offer shoppers a tip or two.

Joe Hegeduis is the Tacoma Best Buy store manager. He’s worked not just one, two or even three Black Fridays. He’s handled 16 for the retailer, with this being his fourth in Tacoma.

“When I started, I didn’t even know what Black Friday was,” he said, chuckling.

While his crew will work regular shifts, he estimates he’ll work 35 to 40 hours just between Thanksgiving and Saturday.

He considered Tuesday his last “normal” day for the week.

“Wednesday night we work through midnight prepping the store,” he said. “Then the first crew comes in 1 p.m. on Thanksgiving” to start organizing the crowd outside and the store inside.

His tips for shoppers are simple:

▪ Have a plan for food.

▪ Read the Black Friday ad carefully so you know what’s in limited quantity.

▪ “Stay hydrated.”

Also, “Bring someone with you. It’s not as much fun to go through this by yourself.”

Tickets for the Best Buy doorbuster sale items are given two hours in advance to those who’ve waited for the store’s opening. And the store’s workers are on the lookout for line jumpers.

Tickets help not only with crowd control — “single file going in, no mob scene” — but also, Hegeduis added, “we don’t let one person buy up all the TVs.”

While TVs, computers and video games are always popular commodities, he sees the hot buying trend this year led by voice-activated home systems.

“Smart home systems, home security, Amazon Echo, Google Home — those sections will probably be busier this year,” he said. “Anything with voice assistance.”

Also, drones.

In between sales events, the store’s return to a pristine, “grand opening” state takes four to five hours after the Thanksgiving rush and after Black Friday.

What’s the hardest part of Black Friday? Hegeduis was quick with his answer:

“To recover from the first wave of shoppers and make the store look like nothing happened when we reopen the next day.”

Debbie Cockrell: 253-597-8364, @Debbie_Cockrell

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