I’m one of those fanatics who goes out before dawn on the day after Thanksgiving, to wait in line for the doors of my favorite stores to open so I can snap up the best deals before they are gone. It sounds really crazy, until you see my receipts and calculate how much money I’m saving for my effort.
And I’m not just saving money on gifts. My first stop is usually an office supply store, because Black Friday can also be a great day to buy web worker gear for bargain prices. Here’s a look at what you might find in stores for your business needs this year.
Of course, when we think web work tools, most of us probably think computers first. But despite the ubiquitous ads for computer sales on Black Friday, a computer may actually be the most difficult tool to find a good deal on. Web workers need computing power, and most Black Friday sale computers at the major chain stores are vastly underpowered so they can be advertised for cheap prices. Unless you are looking for a basic netbook to make travel more convenient, I recommend going directly to the sites of computer manufacturers like Dell to shop their sales on more powerful machines suitable for work.
Unfortunately if you are shopping for a Mac, even on Black Friday there won’t be much of a deal to be had. Apple typically runs a small sale with discounts of around 10 percent. (The supposedly leaked ad that has been circulating online showing much bigger discounts from Apple on Black Friday this year is widely believed to be a fake). Other than that, a few retailers usually get creative and offer bonuses as a way of creating “sales” on Apple machines. Best Buy will be offering a $150 gift card with the purchase of a 13” MacBook for $999 on Black Friday this year, for instance.
If you are in need of computer peripherals, however, get your credit card ready to do some work! The sales on some of these items can save a web worker a lot of money on very necessary items.
(Please note that there are no OfficeMax deals in this article because that retailer has issued legal threats against all sites that published details of its Black Friday ads early, so that store’s information is not available for comparison in articles such as this one.)
Some of these deals will be available online starting on Thanksgiving Day, but not all of these items can be purchased online, so you’ll need to carefully check the ad for any item you select. Almost all Black Friday items are “limited quantity, no raincheck” sales, so you’ll want to prioritize your shopping and get out there (or log on) early.
External Storage: Portable and desktop hard drives are great deals on Black Friday. For desktop storage, 1TB and 1.5TB drives will be on sale at virtually all of the office and department chains for bargain prices. Portable drives can also be had for well under $100 for 500GB. WWD Pick: 1.5TB Western Digital My Book Home Edition desktop drive for $119.99 at Best Buy, or the 500GB Western Digital My Passport Essential portable drive for $69.99, a doorbuster at Staples.
Monitors: Black Friday is a great time to pick up a cheap monitor. Like with the computers being advertised, the advertised low prices often mean less-than-stellar performance, so shop carefully. WWD Pick: Dell 20” widescreen for $99 at Best Buy (regularly $159.99).
Flash Memory: Flash memory in the form of cards or USB drives is often sold at deep discounts as Black Friday doorbusters (items with extremely limited quantities and no rainchecks given) to get people to come out to a store and shop for more expensive items while they are there. Because of this, it can be one of the best deals of the whole shopping weekend. I stock up on SD cards at insane prices every year on Black Friday. WWD Pick: USB drive, CF, microSD, and SD card selection on sale at Staples. (Get there early — I can tell you from experience that they go fast!)
Digital Media: If you use CD/DVD media, Black Friday is the time to head to an office supply store to stock up. Both the media and cases for them will be on major sales at all the office supply chains. WWD Pick: Staples 100pk CD-R for $4.98 (doorbuster price) or Staples CD/DVD Jewel Cases 50pk for $4.99, both at Staples.
Keyboards/Mice: These computer accessories can be had for deep discounts on Black Friday. Going for the slightly higher-priced ones will get you a huge step up in quality, however. WWD Pick: Microsoft 4000 Wireless Laser Keyboard/Mouse Set for $29.99 doorbuster price at Staples (regularly $79.99).
Printers: If you need a printer but don’t need the latest and greatest high-end model, Black Friday is the time to get it. Older printer models are offered on deep discounts to holiday shoppers to secure their future business as ink cartridge customers. Depending on whether you want wireless, laser or inkjet, and intend to print photos or not, there are a variety of options available. But check prices versus online vendors such as Amazon, because not all the advertised prices are actually deals. WWD Pick: HP OfficeJet Pro 8500 for $149.98 at Staples and Office Depot (regularly $299.99).
Routers: Whether you are looking for a portable router to pack on the road for setting up impromptu networks, or an upgrade to your home office network, Staples is the place to head on Black Friday for solid router choices with good discounts. WWD Picks: Netgear WNR1000 RangeMax 150 Wireless Router for $34.99 (portable) and Linksys Dual Band Wireless-N Gigabit Router for $89.99 (office), both at Staples.
Battery Back-up: There’s nothing more annoying than having a power blink reboot your computer unexpectedly. Battery back-up units are some of the biggest Black Friday bargains, available for over 50 percent off at multiple stores. WWD Pick: APC 550VA Battery Backup Unit for $24.99 at Office Depot (regularly $59.99).
Shredders: A wide variety of these are on sale at office supply stores, but be sure to check the features. The biggest difference is in how long they can run before they need to cool off (for as long as an hour in some cases). Most sale models are good for only light home office shredding, typically under two minutes at a time. WWD Pick: Omnitech 15 sheet Cross-Cut Shredder for the $39.99 doorbuster price at Staples (regularly $129.99).
Labelers: If you have made a resolution to get organized, Black Friday is the time to pick up a basic electronic labeler for your office. I use my Brother PT-1290 for file folders, plastic storage containers and power cords. Brother sells that basic unit at 75 percent off on Black Friday to get new users captured as a market for the expensive labeler cartridges. WWD Pick: Brother PT-1290 for $9.99 at Office Depot & Staples (regularly $39.99).
Office Furniture: A few basic office furniture items are on sale, but desk chairs are an especially popular sale item at the office supply chains on Black Friday. 50 percent off is not an uncommon discount. You can pick up a low quality chair extremely cheaply, or get an affordable price on a high quality one. WWD Pick: Realspace Harrington High-back Bonded Leather Chair, $99.99 at Office Depot (regularly $199.99).
Phones: DECT 6.0 phones are great for avoiding interference with wireless routers in home offices and for adding extensions where there aren’t installed lines. Lots of options are available on Black Friday depending on whether you need an answering machine and how many extensions you need. WWD Pick: Panasonic KX-TG9333T DECT 6.0 Expandable Cordless Phone with Answering System for $49.99 at Staples (regularly $89.99).
Will you be deal hunting on Black Friday? What will you be looking for a deal on?