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The truth about Black Friday

Will there be a smattering of good deals? Sure. Will they blow away what you can find the other 364 days of the year? Not likely.

Black Friday is coming! Black Friday is coming!


This is the time of year when Black Friday ads are leaked weeks in advanced, pre-Black Friday sales emerge on a daily basis, and the media goes hog-wild about Black Friday ads, apps, sales, and people willing to stand in line at 4 a.m.

If you'll pardon the expression, I'm not buying it. Much as I understand the importance of this day to American retail's bottom line, I just can't muster much enthusiasm.

See, as a 365-days-a-year cheapskate, I see killer deals all the time. Just the other day, for example, I wrote about a Samsung laser printer for $49.99. A few weeks earlier, I found an 8GB desktop RAM kit for $24.99. And before that, a 2-terabyte external hard drive for $69.99.

In my world, every day is Black Friday.

That's why, despite everyone's expectations to the contrary, the day after Thanksgiving is not a holy one to me. Quite the opposite: it's a day I like to kick back and forget about consumerism. (That said, watch for Cheapskate posts from me not just on Black Friday, but also, um, Silver Saturday and Sepia Sunday.)

Now, I'm not trying to ruin everyone's fun. I'm just suggesting you keep this in perspective--and remember what's important.


For example, Wal-Mart just announced that its 2011 Black Friday sale will start on Thursday evening at 10 p.m., with more deals kicking in at midnight.

One of the 10 p.m. highlights: an Xbox 360 4GB with Kinect and a $50 Wal-Mart gift card for $199.96. That's an awesome deal, no doubt about it. But to even get a shot at it, you'll need to get in line ridiculously early. Do you really want to cut into your Thanksgiving holiday for that?

At midnight, Wal-Mart will offer an Emerson 32-inch HDTV for $188--a good price, yes, but in the last week or so I've seen a couple comparable 32-inchers for $199 (including that Haier model that was originally $229). Again: stand in line for hours and battle crazed crowds to save $11, or spend quality time with your family and get a good night's sleep? To me that's a no-brainer.

Of course, I have curmudgeonly tendencies. I'd love to hear your thoughts on Black Friday: totally overblown, or still the best day of the year to score killer deals?

As always, you can track Black Friday ads and promotions at sites like and