Black Friday – Shop Smart for the Best Deals

So what exactly is Black Friday? In spite of what Wikipedia says, as a born-and-bred New Yorker, I grew-up reading the New York Times which I am sure explained Black Friday as the first day of the fiscal year when merchants “went into the Black” (stopped operating at a loss). This day was typically the day after Thanksgiving in the US. It has since become the unofficial start of the Holiday Gift Season (Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, New Year’s, etc.). 

Of course, the reason you are here is to find bargains, and there are plenty of bargains to be found. You just need to know where to look. These are some of my favorite sites:

Black Friday Ads:

Direct Merchant Specials:

Computers & Electronics:

  • Techbargains.com: one of the original sources for those infamous Dell coupons.
  • DealHack.com: very broad selection of bargains, especially those crazy Amazon Friday deals.
  • Dealighted: even broader selection of bargains because of its user submitted deals.

Online Coupons:

  • RetailMeNot.com: One of the largest coupon collections on the web, usually the most up-to-date coupons available.
  • CouponCabin.com: variety of online coupons

Printable/downloadable local coupons:

  • MommySavesBig: collection of printable national coupons for in-store use
  • ValPak.com: miss a coupon from the newspaper? Chances are it was through ValPak and you can print it direct here.
  • RedPlum.com: another source for printable coupons
  • Upromise.com: a different type of coupon service where you can save money and save for college.

Product Reviews:

  • Amazon: Even if you are not buying from Amazon, research your gifts by reading the reviews. These reviews are typically your “average user” and should be considered as such.
  • Consumer Reports: not the widest selection of reviews, but they usually have updated reviews in the Fall before the Holiday rush.
  • C|NET: not the widest selection of reviews, but they usually review the hottest items. Plus, members can also chime in with User Reviews. Look for an Editor’s Choice list.

Camera Reviews & News:

  • Canon Rumors: best source for inside Canon info on upcoming cameras, lenses and more.
  • Nikon Rumors: for the Nikonmaniacs
  • Digital Photography Review (DP): news and reviews for all top brands.
  • William Castleman: if you are considering an expensive Canon L lens, this is the place to start.
  • Photozone: camera reviews and lens with specific testing on full-frame and cropped sensor dSLRs.
  • Digital Camera Resource: pulls independent reviews from multiple sites
  • Camera Labs: these reviews include specs, sample shots and comparisons across various comparable models.
  • Northern Lights: reviews of camera equipment, software and printers
  • Steves Digicam: don’t bother with this site! Since being purchased by Internet Brands, it is just another shopping portal.

Bargain shopping/comparison sites (be sure to check the vendor’s website ratings below!):

  • Google Shopping: one of the best deal finders on the web
  • Yahoo Shopping: more than just Yahoo storefronts, this service now pulls info from major websites too.
  • Bing Shopping: not to be left out, the former MSN shopping service is growing.
  • CheapUncle.com: affiliated with couponcabin.com, one of the newer shopping sites
  • Shopping.com: one of the original shopping services
  • PriceGrabber.com: the other original shopping service
  • ebay.com: look for PowerSellers with a very high feedback rating! Many companies now sell refurbished equipment direct to the consumer through ebay.

Website Ratings:

  • ResellerRatings.com: is that online price too good to be true, check the ratings of that seller here.
  • Bizrate.com: one of the first rating services for online storefronts
  • NexTag.com: another rating service for online storefronts

My favorite stores for Cameras, Lenses, Accessories, Electronics and more:

  • Adorama.com: Adorama is one of the largest sellers in NYC. They have great prices, but it’s their personal service and actually caring about the customer’s needs that really sets them apart.
  • BHphotovideo.com: The other BIG seller in NYC. Their block long store is a Disneyland for photography, video, electronics, computers and more. Also expect lines like Disney.

Planning your Shopping Route:

  • HopStop.com: need to combine a trip with trains, subways & buses? HopStop with do it. Also has great maps and city guides.

Beware of Camera Prices too Good to be True. The web is the great equalizer. Anyone can put up a website and compete for customers. If you are purchasing from a NEW vendor, be sure to Google “review [vendor’s website]” before you commit to a purchase. This is especially true with electronic/camera vendors. Be careful and do your research BEFORE you enter your credit card.

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