Set out your running shoes and travel coffee mugs. Black Friday sales are starting in a matter of hours. Are you ready?
Local stores are doing their best to keep crowds moving.
Walmart offers a printable store map online highlighting 21 sale zones so shoppers can plan their course. More than half of these stations are strictly for electronics, including laptops, TVs and video game consoles like the Wii, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Other zones includes clothes, toys and housewares.
Before heading to the store, however, know exactly what you're looking for. Some items go on sale at 10 p.m. Thursday while others aren't available until midnight or 8 a.m. on Friday. Supplies are limited, so a few electronic items do require an advance ticket, doled out at midnight.
The good news is Walmart is open 24 hours. Eager shoppers can come in out of the cold to wait in line right next to the item they're hoping to snatch up. Sale prices are good for Friday only.
Across the street, Target is a slightly different story. They open their doors at midnight tonight and the sale starts all at once.
Store manager Melanie Gonzalez is prepping her team to safely manage the early morning crowds.
"We have a really great crowd management plan," said Gonzalez. "The point is to offer a more comfortable shopping environment for our guests."
Small groups of shoppers will be let in every few minutes to prevent bottlenecking at the entrance. Associates will pass out store maps to direct people to doorbusters featured in today's ad. The first 400 shoppers get Luna snack bars and coupons. Another plus? Target's cafe and in-store Starbucks counter open at midnight, too.
"They typically come in pairs. One goes to shop and the other goes to Starbucks," she laughed.
Certain doorbusters are up to 50 percent off, but there are only so many available. Again, make a game plan and prioritize. Maybe you wanted to pick up pajamas for your niece, but the Crock-Pot your mother-in-law has her eye on is only $19. Depending on the crowds and what's in stock, sacrifices might be necessary. Prices are good through Saturday at closing.
If wading through crowds in the cold doesn't sound like a good way to start the weekend, settle in with your computer instead. Most stores honor Black Friday sale prices online within the same hours. Or get the best of both worlds by downloading the Target smartphone app. Walmart fans can "like" a local store app on Facebook to follow deals, too.
Contact reporter Sara Jane Pohlman at email@example.com.