I ended up doing something I thought I would never would on Friday. Wake up early and buy the after Thanksgiving sale items only available on what is known as Black Friday. Thursday morning I was looking through the newspaper's advertisements and saw several items which would make for good Christmas gifts and a few things that I wanted for myself. Carrie's parents were going to go to the stores around Killeen and offered for me to shop with them. I had to decline because I didn't want to be at the mercy of someone else making decisions on what I expected to be a chaotic and frustrating day. So we drove back to Austin from their house that night and I would brave the crowds by myself on my home turf.
My plan was to pick up most things at Circuit City and Sears, and then I had a small list of other various stores to visit. Because Circuit City seemed to have the best deals, I was going to start there. Doors open at 5:00 AM. I set my alarm for 4:30 AM and went to bed early, but I didn't get a very good sleep. I was waking up every hour to look at the clock to see how much time I still had.
When the alarm did go off, I brushed my teeth, threw on some clothes, and was out the door. I drove to the Circuit City in La Frontera and the parking lot was pretty full. I expected there to be a line so I parked my car and started walking towards the store. As I got closer, I noticed that the line of customers stretched across the front and down the side. It looked like the line's end was at the back of the side, but it started moving as I was still walking up and people kept coming from around the corner of the rear of the store. I couldn't believe it. With the amount of people in front of me, it was going to take forever to get in, difficult to walk inside the store, and I'm sure the checkout lines wouldn't be a picnic either. So I turned around and walked straight back to my car so I could hit Sears.
Not wanting to search for a parking spot at the mall, I drove to the back door of Sears where the auto shop is as I thought it wouldn't be as crowded. Sure enough I was right; I got a good spot and walked right in. Sears had a good number of people walking around, but it wasn't terrible. The item I thought might sell out quickly still had plenty of stock left after I grabbed one. It will be my gift to Carrie's parents. Then I walked to the tools area to get a floor jack for myself. I got it and one other small item and went to the register.
After leaving Sears, I wanted to go to Radio Shack to get some of the items that were on my Circuit City list. It wasn't quite 6:00 AM yet so I ended up standing outside the store for ten minutes with about twenty others for the store to open. I picked up a new wireless router because my current one is extremely slow with DNS lookups. I also got a gift for my brother Josef and then stepped in line. I was only the fifth or sixth person in line, but the people in front were taking forever. One lady kept complaining about the prices that were being rung up. And then another said she didn't get her mail-in rebate form. Finally after about thirty minutes I was at the front of the queue for checkout. Both of my items were supposed to have mail-in rebate forms printed out from the register and sure enough, only one was given to me. So I let the manager David know (a really nice guy, by the way) and he apologized and said that this had happened to a few others as well. The only way to fix this was to void the transaction at the register and ring it up again. The lines were still pretty long so we decided it would be best for me to come back later when the store wasn't as busy. I was fine with that as I could do a little more shopping at the mall. After hitting up a few more stores, I went back to Radio Shack. I was pretty tired by this point and thought about just going home but I seriously didn't want to drive back to the mall later that day. Once I got to the register, the clerk rung me up again, but her point of sale terminal crashed when printing out the second rebate form. It took forever to reboot and for some reason she couldn't just print it out. We had to void that transaction and do it all over again, only the terminal crashed at the same spot of the printout. The clerk said that was the fourth or fifth time the machines had crashed that morning. I wasn't about to sit there and wait any longer. I talked with David again and he said that if the rebate gets rejected because of the incomplete form, that he will just give me store credit for the amount. At this point in the day, that was fine with me (even though it will probably be months before I hear word about the rebate). I was just ready to get out of there.
My last stop on the way home was at Lowe's where there was a special on the mini-twist florescent light bulbs. I'm starting to use those throughout my house because all of the others burn out quickly (even the "longer lasting" bulbs which are guaranteed for two years). I also got some wasp spray to take care of the nests by my front door.
Once I finally did get back home, I took a few hour nap on the couch. My friends asked if it I was glad that I woke up so early to shop. I don't regret doing it as it was helpful in picking up Christmas gifts which I had been neglecting to do, but I don't see myself ever doing it again. The money you might save just isn't worth the effort in my opinion. One piece of advice I have to others is to stay away from electronics stores. People go nuts for the deals they offer, but the mail-in rebates are a hassle even if they print out correctly.