Depending on your perspective, Black Friday has become a veritable holiday unto itself: a paean to American capitalism and the joy of deal hunting. Or, you know, a cultural dark spot that calls into question our country's materialism and conscience. As avid bargain hunters ourselves, we're split, and we figure if you absolutely, positively, have to brave the cold and chaos come this Friday, then you'd better make sure you come home with some bonafide deals. We consulted retail maven Tyler Thoreson, Gilt Groupe's VP of men's editorial and creative, who reminded us that, as a whole, the bargain-hunting process "is supposed to be fun. There are amazing deals to be had – you just need to know what you're doing." Here are his insider's tips on how to prep ahead of time, how to suss out deals on the fly, and how to prevent buyer's remorse on the big day.
Check return policies.
It should be obvious, but experience suggests otherwise: Depending on the store, some Black Friday merchandise may have a brief or limited return policy, and more stores have begun charging restocking fees. (If you've bought gifts, make sure that returns will be accepted at least a few weeks after Christmas.) When plunking down cash, you need to get and save your receipt for every purchase (we tape the receipt to everything we buy until it's opened), and request gift receipts, which discreetly omit prices, for any items that are going to others. Otherwise, any regrettable impulse purchases could equate to store credit for the lowest purchase price – in other words, bupkis.
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