We asked for Long Island's most extreme Black Friday shoppers again this year, and our search led us to Saint James resident Vikki Rella, 37.
Vikki is an eighth-grade English teacher, a mom to 2 -1/2 year old Gianna and, of course, an avid deal hunter. Vikki's name was submitted by her brother, Frank D'Angelone. "I've witnessed her plot out routes and clip coupons leading up to the most exciting day of her year," he wrote. "I've also reaped the benefits of her labor in the form of holiday gifts because she's also the one of the most generous people I know. In the days after Hurricane Sandy she's organized charity drives both through her work and personal outlets."
Since she never sacrifices Thanksgiving night with her family, Vikki will start her shopping marathon at 12 a.m. Friday morning. She says she starts out at Old Navy because they have great deals and run out of stock quickly. After hitting up Toys R Us and tackling Smith Haven Mall, she will regroup before heading out for the second leg-- Best Buy, Target, Bed Bath and Beyond and Kohl's. "After that, we see wherever the road takes us," she says. "I usually don't get home until around noon!"
We asked Vikki to answer a few questions about herself so our readers could get to know her before following her Black Friday expedition.
How many years have you been Black Friday shopping?
Well, I remember being pretty young and always going shopping the day after Thanksgiving with my mom -- she taught me all the bargain hunting tips I know --because the best holiday deals have always been the day after Thanksgiving, even before the day was titled Black Friday. As far as my traditional Black Friday overnight spree, at least 8 years.
Why do you love Black Friday?
Black Friday is like a sport. You have to pre-plan and come up with a strategy. You have to gather your coupons and apps and know what you are heading into. You have to get caught up in the energy and fun of it to really appreciate it. I love that there are so many other dedicated bargain hunters out in the middle of the freezing cold night hoping to score a deal on presents -- all of which will be going to other people. What's better than that -- a great bargain, plus making someone else happy? Nothing!
What are your favorite stores to shop at on Black Friday?
Old Navy, Toys R Us, the Gap, Disney Store, Target, Best Buy, Macy's, Bed Bath and Beyond, and Michaels.
What is your shopping area of specialty?
I would say clothing, toys, home goods, and anything I can scratch off my friends' and families' wish lists!!
What are your must-have items this year?
Anything Minnie Mouse, My Little Pony, or Crayola for my daughter and deals on toys and electronics for my nieces, nephew, and godson. Outerwear from Old Navy -- check their ad, people! Some jackets are around $15!!!
I would also like to try to focus some of my attention on friends, family, and community members who were greatly affected by Hurricane Sandy. I am running a toy drive at my school this holiday season, so I plan to share a little love in that direction, too! I will also be looking for something special for my brother, Frank, for entering me in this contest.
What is the best Black Friday deal you have ever scored?
FREE cold weather accessories at Old Navy. They have some of the best deals out there -- coupons as you walk in, amazing deals throughout the store, and, like I said, sometimes you can score free items, too! You also have to look for the "door busters" at each store -- each year they get better and better! I have a special doorbuster move I bust our when I score a good deal -- be on the lookout for that one!
Who will you be shopping with this year?
Well, I don't like to have to lone it -- you definitely need a support group to keep the pep in your step and the enthusiasm in place -- there's no getting tired on Black Friday!!! Each year I try to persuade my friends to come with me. Most of them think I am crazy for going out in the first place, but this year I have a few friends on the fence lined up for certain legs of the night -- Jessica (known as "Treats") for Old Navy, my sisters-in-law for Toys are Us, Janina for the mall. But I know I can always count on my husband, Andrew, to come with me if I need him. Let's just say that while he loves a good bargain, he is not as crazy about Black Friday as I am, but helps keep me entertained on the long lines. I might have to bribe him with a few cups of coffee on the way, but I know he'll do it if I need him! If my friends can't make it, or our schedules wind up differing, we always stay in touch via texts and Facebook to keep track of everyone's deals and where to find the best bargains!
If you could give other shoppers one Black Friday shopping tip, what would it be?
Plan ahead and gather your coupons. There's also a great BlackFriday.com app that gathers all the stores' Black Friday ads and organizes them all. They constantly update it with new deals and the latest Black Friday news, and the app is free! Also, don't lose sight of the fun of it. It's easy to lose patience waiting in line or battling it out with other shoppers for the same item, but you have to remember this is all in the holiday spirit, no matter what you celebrate. If you keep it positive, you will have a better time, and the gift giving will be more rewarding!
Photo: Vikki Rella will be shopping for her daughter, Gianna (pictured), other relatives, friends and superstorm Sandy victims this Black Friday.