Approximately 36 hours ago, REC marked the inaugural tradition for Black Friday shopping for many years to come. Amidst the frenzy media reports on this infamous shopping day, REC figured if we can’t beat them, we’ll join them, and so our adventures began.
After a late dinner at 9pm, we packed our car with a cooler filled with redbull and water for energy, box of savoury and sweet bakery buns for emergency nourishment, and two crazy Canadians. We arrived at Pacific Crossing border at 11pm that promised an hour wait to cross the 49th parallel. Though it was blatantly obvious that everyone in line were going to brave the widely-known Black Friday sale, border patrols asked the same question – where? who? what?
As we reached our first destination – Chelsea Seattle Premium Outlet at 12:20pm and found ourselves in a sea of cars doing everything to enter the parking lot. The parking lots, unfortunately, were full and we were re-directed to park outside the Tulalip Casino. We considered ourselves lucky as any later, we would be parking in the next parking lot by Walmart (an estimated 35 minute walk). At 12:30pm, we paced ourselves for a 15 mins brisk walk to join the long line-ups at seemingly almost every single store. Oddly enough, it took us a couple minutes to digest the frenzy and find our way around, though we’ve visited the outlet a million times. Shopping at night made me feel a bit like a rebel and a degenreate combined. It was palpable to which stores had the best sales, with the evidence of the length of each line-ups and large bags other shoppers carried. In our opinion, the best sales included:
- Banana Republic – additional 50% everything, and additional 10% if you were a Chelsea Outlet VIP
- Hugo Boss – additional 40% off everything, and additional 10% if you were a Chelsea Outlet VIP
- Puma – additional 40% off shoes, additional 50% off clothing, and additional 10% off entire bill
- Cole Haan – additional 50% off entire store
By spending 2 minutes of your time to join the VIP membership at the Chelsea Outlets website provides you additional savings on your purchases. As a member, you will be given access to download coupons at all the centres. It is advisable to print out the coupons the day of your trip as new coupons are added daily. You will also be given a VIP coupon book (which retails for $5) at the Guest Services.
We set our phone alarm for 4am so we will have ample time to travel to our second destination – Alderwood Mall. Why Alderwood Mall?? Because it promises our American favourites including Nordstrom, Forever 21 (even though it has finally opened in Vancouver), Abercombie, and Game Stop (for the Mr.) that is in close proximity to the Outlet. We arrived at 4:30am and the mall was already spilling with crazy shoppers with bountiful of shopping bags. Sales were great, but disappointing in comparison to the Outlet prices. Best sale? Urban Outfitters – additional 50% off sale items until 10am.
After 3 redbulls and 12 hours later and experiencing the sky from dark to bright and back to dark, REC and I were ready to go home. We were lucky to come across a lenient border guard to let us pass without paying taxes and duty. The exhiliration from evading taxes was the icing on the cake and made our tiresome shopping trip a well-worth it one.
Here are some Black Friday tips:
- Join Chelsea Outlets VIP program for additional savings
- Be sure to check retailers’ websites for store hours as they vary in different states and locations
- Line-ups are a good indicator to how great the sale is
- Arrive before 12am to allow ample time for border waits and parking
- Have a full meal before arriving to maximize shopping time
- Go in a group of 2 or 3. The smaller the group, the more likely they will let you in the store quicker. Tag-team when lining up for stores, dressing rooms, and cashiers
- Wear light clothing, so you would be able to try on specific items without visiting the dressing room, but warm enough to survive the cold outside. To be the ultimate shopper, know your sizes in various brands so you don’t need to try anything on.
- A month prior to Black Friday, visit your favourite stores and sign-up to be part of their mailing list. It is often that these stores will send you e-mail blasts about their Black Friday sales
- Arrive early as most stores provide incentives for early shoppers with additional savings up to 5am