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Article updated: 11/24/2012 1:13 PM

Savvy Black Friday shoppers share their strategies

Rafaela Garcia of South Elgin had her shopping cart overflowing at the Target store in West Dundee on a previous Black Friday. This year, Target stores will open their doors at 9 p.m. Thanksgiving Day.

Rafaela Garcia of South Elgin had her shopping cart overflowing at the Target store in West Dundee on a previous Black Friday. This year, Target stores will open their doors at 9 p.m. Thanksgiving Day.

 

Christopher Hankins | Staff Photographer, 2004

Shoppers pour into the Target store in West Dundee in hopes of getting the first bargains of the holiday shopping season.

Shoppers pour into the Target store in West Dundee in hopes of getting the first bargains of the holiday shopping season.

 

Christopher Hankins | Staff Photographer, 2004

Shoppers Michael and Deanna Hardt of Elgin were the first customers in line at the Target store in West Dundee on a previous Black Friday.

Shoppers Michael and Deanna Hardt of Elgin were the first customers in line at the Target store in West Dundee on a previous Black Friday.

 

Christopher Hankins | Staff Photographer, 2004

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By Amy Williams

It's exhausting just thinking about it.

Though many people are busy planning a way to make sure the turkey, stuffing, veggies and cranberry sauce all are ready at the same time, others are spending these last few days before Thanksgiving planning out how to get a Furby, a new iPod and cozy slippers all before the turkey's even digested.

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Carolyn Brooks of Lake in the Hills said she's already been on the phone and online, finding out which stores near her are open when. She's trying to plot out where to go first. This year, she said, she's mainly looking for electronics and deals on LEGOS sets.

"I have a little drawing, and I'm in charge of figuring out where my family is going to go," Brooks said. "I'm not sure where we're going first this year, but I'll have it all done by Thanksgiving."

Many area malls and stores have been publicizing their hours already, so people can do just that -- plan out where they will do their Black Friday shopping and when.

Many national stores, such as Toys R Us, Walmart and Sears, are opening at 8 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 22, with Target following at 9 p.m.

Locally, it looks like if you want to go out early, the Huntley Outlet Center will have many stores open by 9 p.m. Thursday.

If you're ready to shop by then, you can go to Ann Taylor Factory Store, Bass, Calvin Klein, Van Heusen and Wilson's Leather. Then, at 10 p.m., you can move on to Aeropostale, BCBG Max Azria and Cinnamonster for a snack.

Most of the other stores will open at midnight.

Once you're done there, you may want to head to Algonquin Commons.

Most stores there open at midnight or after, though the Gap will be open at 9 p.m.

However, people are likely to start flocking to the outdoor mall long before its official opening. Once again it is offering its free tote bag giveaway.

The first 1,000 shoppers will get a free holiday tote with a gift card ranging from $10 to $500 inside, along with store coupons. They also will be giving away a $2,500 shopping spree.

Lindsay Major, a spokesperson for the mall, says in the past people have started to line up as early at 10 p.m. on Thanksgiving for the giveaways.

If you wait until 6 a.m., when the tote bags are actually handed out, you might not get one, she said, so she recommends getting there early.

Cara Sanders of Algonquin said she's usually in that line long before 6 a.m.

"I think we get there by about 3 (a.m.) each year. I think it just matters on how cold it is, but if it's not bad we go out for fun and hope we win. Then we shop, shop, shop and have breakfast."

If it is cold, and you're looking for an indoor shopping experience, you can head to Spring Hill Mall in West Dundee for some early morning deals. The mall officially opens at 4 a.m. Friday, but anchors such as Kohl's and Carson's will be open at midnight.

You can go from store to store in the warmth, and then be ready for the rest of the mall's stores to open at 4 a.m.

Charlestowne Mall in St. Charles has no special early Black Friday hours; however, some of its anchors also will open early like they are at Spring Hill. Both Carson's and Kohl's will open their doors at midnight. Von Maur, however, won't be open until 9 a.m. Friday.

The remainder of the stores can open at their discretion, mall officials said.

Geneva Commons will be open at 9 a.m. Friday, too. Some stores may choose to open earlier, mall officials said, however, much of the Commons' activities will happen later in the day.

There will be carolers from 5 to 5:30 p.m. Friday, followed by a tree-lighting ceremony at 5:30 p.m. And then everyone can visit with Santa and get their wish lists in early from 5:30 to 7 p.m.

Geneva Commons also will be offering free carriage rides throughout the day from 2:30 to 6:30 p.m. Friday, which should help shoppers exhausted from getting up early.

"That's really more my speed," said Lynn Riley of Huntley. "I hate crowds, and I love to sleep in after Thanksgiving, so you're not going to find me out of bed any earlier than I have to be."

Dana Wiley of Lake in the Hills said there will be no sleeping in for her and her shopping crew -- which includes her sister, who shops with her, and her husband, who is their chauffeur and keeps the car warm and ready to move on to the next spot.

They will sleep after they shop, she said.

Wiley and her sister have been Black Friday shopping together for 20 years.

Before, she said, they used to plan out everything on Thanksgiving after dinner, once they had a chance to look at the ads in the newspapers.

Now, she said, everything is online ahead of time and they get started planning earlier.

"We can plan it out like the week prior and we use the sites and the apps on the phones to create our plan and lists," she said. "We try to tag team when we get to a store so we can grab what we need and move onto the next place fast.

"We all go for breakfast around 7 a.m. when we hit the wall and before we go back to bed for a few hours to get some sleep."

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