Deals – Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, & Everything In Between

100% off if you don't purchase anything!; image from Karl Hab

Over the weekend, my husband and I were out doing all of the shopping and taking advantage of all of the deals. I learned a lot about what I liked when shopping in stores … and a lot about how stores I haven't shopped at in years have changed. Worst of all, I learned a lot about high brand products that perhaps aren't worth the money you pay for them. Read on to discover what I learned before you make a mistake this Cyber Monday.


I was sooo disappointed that some of my wants sold out just prior to Black Friday and the magnificent sale of 25% off all items. But despite my sadness, Anthropologie was still one of the most helpful and awesome stores I shopped at. Even on a busy day like Black Friday, the employees at my local store went out of their way to search for an item out of stock in their stores and find out if it was available online or in any other stores for me. It wasn't, but it meant a lot to me that the customer associates would take time out of the craziness that is Black Friday to make me feel important. And of course, part of making me feel important is the customer return policy. They always go out of their way to make sure that items are exactly what you want and fit like you need them to without hassling you about it. I feel no guilt buying items, taking them home to see if I really will wear them, and returning them if after a week they've just sat in my closet untouched. I really don't need things in my closet that I don't wear.  Oh – and the price match policy is pretty awesome too.  It's nice knowing that I can receive a price match within 15 days of my purchase if the item goes on sale. All of these bits and pieces add up to one confident customer … and prevent me from making purchases from other (cheaper) stores that don't provide that kind of confidence.

Over the weekend I bought some lingerie, the most gorgeous lamp shade that I've been watching for months (not wanting to pay full price), a headband, a book, and some camisoles. Most of my wants were out of stock, most especially the Bobble Poncho. :( I considered a dress or two (or three or four), but ultimately decided against them. Here are some links to a few other books I had a chance to look through this weekend and recommend: How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are, Gail Albert Halaban: Paris Views, Home Style By City, and Maps. (Feel free to buy me one!)

Today you can get an additional 20% off all sale items (in stores and online) PLUS free shipping! This is a great deal … if you can find anything left!!


The sales at Free People are never quite as good as at sister store Anthropologie. I still love the products, but even the customer service lacks quite a bit. Justin always jokes that Free People clothing is made more cheaply and yet is just as costly as Anthropologie. Over the weekend stores offered 25% off all sale merchandise and today FP is offering 25% off sale merchandise online (not sure if the promo is still available in stores). I didn't find anything I wanted to take advantage of, but I love knowing that Free People is just like Anthro in that they will look items up for you in other stores, order items for you and ship them to your home for free if they are out of stock in the particular store you visit, AND they will price match. One catch (and this goes for Anthro too), if you buy with paypal OR a gift card, the entire purchase (even if you paid for some of the purchase with your credit or debit card) will all be returned to a gift card. It's a frustrating practice to say the least, but obviously you can pick and choose what you buy with gift cards and consistently choose not to use Paypal for your purchases if you truly aren't certain if you want to keep a product you are buying.


I have to cover (most of) the stores in this sister chain! Ha! I don't have a whole lot to say about BHLDN customer service other than they are offering 20% off all sale merchandise today. Since their sale merchandise is still usually pretty high in cost, I recommend checking it. $16 off of an $80 headpiece is far better than $80 straight. #justsaying :)


Much like Anthropologie, Costco has a pretty lenient return policy and they had a lot of fantastic deals over the weekend. Justin and I came home with Sanyo Eneloop rechargeable batteries (& charger), smartphone holders (so Justin can navigate via GPS on his phone without having to hold his phone the whole time), a back-up camera (so he can see when backing up his very large truck), and various long sleeve shirts that were on sale. We also price matched the BlendTec blender we bought prior to Thanksgiving only to have it break during it's second use last night! Six minutes of use and the dang thing was leaking and had a broken gasket. So frustrating! We're considering a VitaMix. It's just absolutely irritating that no one makes good blenders!

(Another irritating fact from the whole BlendTec price-matching debacle: Costco WILL NOT price match over the phone and even if you do go back to the stores, you have to have the original receipt in hand. They do, however, let you purchase the product again and return the newly purchased product to your older receipt which is at least something even if it takes an extra hour to do the price-matching. An hour spent for $50 is pretty good, but an hour spent for $50 back on a blender that broke the same night as you got the price match feels less good…)


As I was typing Forever 21, I accidentally typed it as Forever @! which could easily be &@($#%*#. In other words, this store got under my skin over the weekend when I attempted to return a scarf and they gave me a store credit rather than putting the money back on my card even though I was within their 21 day store policy. Argh. I never shop the cheap products at Forever 21, so I found myself a bit insulted (but not surprised) that they can't even back their products for 21 days! I will not be shopping at Forever 21 again until they change their policy.


We also visited Little Shop of Stories and a small number of the local Decatur restaurants to take advantage of Small Business Saturday and the free money Amex was offering. We purchased the Decatur ornament (created by a local glass shop), a gift certificate to Brickstore and Mac McGee's, and an ice cream cone from the newest ice cream shop in town, Jeni's. Let me just say that we tried a combination of the milk chocolate and sea salt caramel and I was in heaven. Delicious, thick … simply amazing. And you can get her book, to make the ice creams at home, on Amazon for an extra 30% off today using code HOLIDAY30. I'm definitely considering it… :) (Of course the code can be used for any book on Amazon except Kindle books, so I highly recommend checking out your cart to see if there is anything you were already planning on purchasing…)

Finally, before the weekend reached it's climactic (or not so, as the case may be) end, I also spent a bit of time in Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdales, William Sonoma, Paper Source, and Sam Flax. The first three stores, as expected, were expensive. Truthfully I only visit William Sonoma for a free cup of hot chocolate or hot apple cider and perhaps a bit of peppermint bark at this time of year; the cup sizes provide a much healthier consumption amount than say … the kids hot chocolate at Starbucks. (500 calories in a single drink! No way!) Paper Source was the most annoying store of the 5 though offering a sale you could only take advantage of in stores. For example, they were offering a sale on Christmas cards … buy 3 get the 4th free. They didn't have 4 of the ones I wanted, so I asked if they could order them for me. Yes they could order the cards, but then they couldn't give me the fourth set free. Argh. I would have to purchase the 4th set in stores from what they had available. No thanks. So Justin and I took our card searching to Sam Flax where we bought a bunch of paper using Justin's student discount and they even offered a promotion on the paper for us. YAY!


We spent way too much, got some good deals and some bad deals, but most importantly I became more fully aware of store policies and customer service at the various stores. I learned that I am willing to pay extra to receive top service and great products. I especially learned to love Small Business Saturday and giving back to local businesses even if Amex helped me to do so. It felt great knowing I was helping the local economy and not supporting as many take-the-money-and-run large-scale companies that could care less about me and are only worried/concerned with themselves and making a buck.

Where all did you shop over the weekend? Did you take advantage of any fantastic Black Friday Sales or get in on Amex's Small Business Saturday? Will you be taking advantage of any sales today for Cyber Monday? Share! I want to hear about all of the deals! Good and bad!

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