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Nobody understands Black Friday at Woodbury Common better than Michele Rothstein. Rothstein is Senior VP of Marketing—otherwise known as "head shopper"—at Premium Outlets, which runs the upstate outlet mecca. She's been coordinating post-Thanksgiving sales for years and even helped pioneer the now-ubiquitous midnight opening over a decade ago. This morning, we called her up for an inside view on how to make it through one of the New York area's most daunting, exhilarating retail experiences.
Not familiar with what happens at Woodbury on Black Friday? Picture approximately a hundred sample sales happening at once, in the middle of the night, an hour outside New York City. Or just check out our coverage from last year.
Here are Rothstein's ten Woodbury Common tips:
1. Do your homework.
If you know Woodbury, you know the lay of the land. If you don't, arriving is not the time. The first tip is to look at the map and understand how it's laid out. Woodbury has a village setting—it's not like a mall, more like a town with different sections. Also, look at the deals which we have posted on the website. And figure out which stores open early. We've got lots of stores opening by 9pm. I think that has really helped shoppers who want to be the first ones through the door.
2. Know thyself.
One interesting thing about Black Friday: Some people love it, some people hate it. It's really the Superbowl of shopping, and if you're not in for the game, you might as well be sleeping. It's not for the meek—this is true power shopping. It's OK if that's not your thing. Just remember that the sales continue Saturday and Sunday, too.
3. Shop with someone who likes to shop.
I get a room at the Hampton Inn down the street, and my husband stays at the hotel. It's great: He's happy as a clam, and I don't feel guilty. I used to bring my kids; now I don't bring my kids. So know your family, know your friends, shop with people who are really into this. This is a marathon. Don't bring someone who's going to whine.
4. Stay mobile.
I'm posting sales at like 2am as they're coming in from merchants. Some of them have known for weeks and months what their promos are, others are just deciding today. Hopefully by Black Friday we'll be done, but you can see up to the minute what the stores are offering. We also have a mobile link for the sales. We have QR codes all around the center, so as you're shopping, scan it and you can read the updated list of stores.
5. Consider your parking options.
Make your list of the top ten stores and then circle on the map where they are. That's going to determine where you're going to park. Especially if you're going to buy heavy things, park near where you're going to unload your bags.
6. Dress for the party.
We're an outdoor center; this is not Florida. Wear very comfortable shoes. I see women walk around in high heels at midnight, and it's like, are you kidding me? This is not a fashion show. We do have dressing rooms and we don't encourage people to try things on in the aisles, but still wear clothing you can change out of easily.
7. Act fast.
Don't procrastinate. Don't purchase foolishly and impulsively, but it's better to buy something you love and return it than to miss a one-of-a-kind piece.
8. Get there at 3am
Between 3am and 5am there's a middle-of-the-morning lull. It actually gets quiet—well, not quiet, but less busy-busy, because the first crop of people have left. And then the next group of people aren't really targeting 3am. Psychologically, they're aiming for 6am. Parking is still not easy, but it's something to be aware of.
9. Share your finds.
This isn't a tip, but we're @premiumoutlets on Twitter and we love to hear from people. We're also on Facebook and we have someone monitoring 24/7. We love when people go home, take shots of their purchases, and send them to us. Hey, if you got up in the middle of the night, you should brag about it! It's the whole communal bargain-hunting thing. Also, if you share your tips, you'll help us plan for next year.
10. Bone up on your language skills.
We have buses leaving Port Authority before 8pm. Everyone's gearing up. We have people flying in from all over the world for this event. You just have to do it once. I think a lot of the international visitors feel that way, that it's one of those American experiences. We get so much international press who come and they feel like it's a major world event.
· Woodbury Commons Report: Chaos at Burberry [Racked NY]
· Woodbury Common [Official Site]