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A Black Friday Survival Guide Featuring Two Hardcore Local Shoppers


Just three more days until sweats-clad shopping enthusiasts take to the malls, in the middle of the night, to get the best possible deals on a flat screen TV and possibly a black eye. But, contrary to the news reports, Black Friday shopping is not always violent. Some may even say it’s fun. Kari Mullan Valley and Mela Kunitz think so. They are “professional” Black Friday shoppers.

“I think it started with my mom, probably 20 years ago, that we would do a little bit,” Kari said. “But I think each year it has gotten more and more obsessive with planning out our stops and our time that we’re going out. Really getting a plan!”

Kari will drive from Centralia down to Portland to do some serious shopping with her friend Mela.

“We usually start pretty early. We start at, like, 4 a.m. and go til noon. We’re definitely gonna hit Sears and Macy’s and Target and Michael’s,” Mela said.

This year she’s adding in designated snack breaks.

“Last year we went a little too long without eating,” said Mela. “By the time we got to Kenny & Zuke’s, to have a really late breakfast, we were ready to eat our arms. So this year I’m going to make sure we get some food every couple of hours.”

Kari says a good professional Black Friday shopper does her research.

“I have an organized coupon pouch that I keep in my purse. You gotta sign up for the websites you like to follow and they send you coupons. Then, on Thanksgiving day, I get the newspaper and I go through all the ads and I pull out the stores I’m thinking of going to. If there’s something specific I want, I kind of shop it around and see if that’s the best price on it and then I add it to the folder of where we’re going.”

An experienced shopper knows what to wear and how to avoid the dressing rooms.

“You gotta go with comfort,” advises Mela. “Flat shoes, shoes that are easy to take off if you’re planning on trying on shoes. Usually a sleeveless top with a long sleeve top over that and a vest to keep you warm. No big coat, no big purse. Bring a granola bar, bring some water.”

Black Friday is just a small notch in the belt of these avid consumers.

“She and I plan shopping vacations together. Last year we went to Texas and went shopping for a vacation, for four days. BBQ and shopping, that was the whole goal for the trip,” Kari mused.

So when I’m lying in bed, gravy running through my stuffing stuffed veins, these ladies will be out on the streets, sans big jackets and purses, high on the prospect of a bargain.

“I think it’s similar to, like, if you work out and you have a good run or you play a good game of football, or whatever it is,” said Mela. “I just think it’s sort of like, I know this sounds kind of weird, but a job well done.”

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