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.
Err on the side of quality.
Make this your sale-shopping cardinal rule, but especially on Black Friday: If you don't instantly connect with an item – a pattern is too offbeat or the fabric is scratchy or a feature of an appliance is missing, whatever – that's a pretty good indicator that you're only interested in something because it's supposedly a deal. "Don't mess around," Thoreson says. "If you have a connection to an item, and you like it, do buy it." But once you lay down cash for an item that's already a compromise you're doubly screwed: for one, you don't have the item you actually wanted, and now that you have something close enough, you're likely stuck with it (inertia is brutal). "You won't ever regret investing in quality," Thoreson counsels. "Some things you buy on a whim and as long as it's quality, those are often the things you end up liking the most." But the opposite, grasping at something random, simply to have something to buy, rarely works out. At best, it involves a second trip to the store, return receipt in hand and tail between legs. At worst, you're stuck with a long-lasting physical reminder of the folly of greed.
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