Moreso than any other day of the year, you’ll be intensely aware of New York City’s immense population on the day after Thanksgiving. Couple epic deals with the Big Apple’s already-legendary retail scene, and you can see why it’s difficult to escape the draw of Black Friday. But why try? If mobs of frenzied shoppers aren’t your thing, worry not: there are still plenty of covetable discounts awaiting the in-the-know bargain hunter. And if you live for battling your way through chaotic department stores to earn your haul, we haven’t forgotten you either. The savvy Black Friday shopper lays down a game plan ahead of time; luckily, we’ve drawn one up for you.
Know Before You Go
Black Friday falls on November 24th this year. To ensure you make the most of your time, it’s essential to plan your day in advance. We recommend making a list of items you plan to buy and allocating time for different shopping districts to avoid missing out on any must-visit spots.
Be sure to dress in layers – the weather in late November will be brisk, but you’ll likely be sweating before too long, especially if you’re racing through massive department stores. Wear comfortable shoes, and bring some snacks for good measure. It’s advisable to check out stores’ opening hours in advance, as some may have extended hours for the occasion.
Black Friday vs. Small Business Saturday
Black Friday is your chance to snag major discounts on big-ticket items from big-name retailers. Small Business Saturday is its foil, and falls on the following day (November 25th this year). This is when smaller businesses will hold the majority of their promotions and sales, and shoppers can take advantage of the lower prices while engaging with local shop owners, discovering one-of-a-kind gifts, and helping to bolster the city’s community of small businesses.
Pick your poison, or plan for both. If you have the stamina to spend your Black Friday at major stores and the following day exploring hidden gems and artisan markets, you can make the most of the season’s sales while supporting the city’s local economy.
Big-Name Retailers and Iconic Malls
Hot tip: keep an eye out for “doorbuster” deals prior to the day itself. These are when stores offer a limited supply of products at outrageously low prices to those who show up right when they open. The early bird gets the discount, as they say.
When it comes to department stores, Saks Fifth Avenue and Bloomingdale’s are known for their killer deals, but most people tend to instantly think Macy’s when they think Black Friday. There’s a really good reason for that: when it comes to insanely low prices on pretty much anything you could ever want, Macy’s is king. The Herald Square location, a.k.a. the world’s largest department store, opens dog-early and likely draws more crowds than any other single store in the country. If it’s the whole three-ring-circus Black Friday experience you want, there’s nowhere better. If it’s just Macy’s’ deals you’re after, you’re better off heading to the Queens location.
Black Friday is Apple’s biggest discount day, meaning the lines outside NYC’s Apple Stores will be significant, to say the least. The sales are equally significant, though, if you can get there early enough and are willing to brave the throngs and the cold. There are a few different locations throughout Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens; while the lines at Manhattan locations tend to be the longest, don’t expect them to be significantly shorter anywhere else. In other words, prepare to be in it for the long haul.
Manhattan is also packed with prominent malls like the Shops at Columbus Circle, which is home to a number of high-end shops. Brookfield Place in Lower Manhattan and the sleek World Trade Center Mall also offer a host of options for the Black Friday shopper looking to maximize their time.
Local Shops and Markets: Small Business Saturday
Making Small Business Saturday your main event means you’ll get to explore an eclectic variety of discounted goods while supporting local businesses. Neighborhoods such as Williamsburg, SoHo, the East Village, and Chelsea are always rife with boutiques, artisans, and independent stores participating in the day’s deals. Pick one and hunt around for the best deals you can find, or check out some of our favorite spots to get you started.
St. Mark’s Place isn’t a single store; rather, it’s a stretch of historic East Village real estate known for its variety of small businesses. On Small Business Saturday, you’ll be able to find deals on vintage clothing, rare vinyl records, and more. Most of the shops along the street participate in the shopping extravaganza, so be sure to leave yourself time to explore the area.
Etsy, the online marketplace for handmade and vintage items, has a physical shop in SoHo. For Small Business Saturday, they offer exclusive in-store deals and showcase the work of local Etsy sellers.
Bookbook in Greenwich Village typically offers a particularly engaging shopping experience on Small Business Saturday. The indie bookstore offers discounts on featured titles as well as book signings and readings.
Also in Greenwich Village, The Market NYC is a unique shopping destination featuring a variety of independent designers and artists. On Small Business Saturday, you can expect discounts on handmade jewelry, clothing, and accessories.
Prefer to partake in an activity besides window shopping? There are discounts for those too. The Paint Place in the Upper West Side offers special deals on painting classes for Small Business Saturday, and Gotham Archery in Boerum Hill typically runs promotions on archery lessons and range time.
Whether your Black Friday plans involve wading directly into the fray at Macy’s, freezing your way towards a new iPad, or skiving it off entirely in favor of the following day’s local business offerings, it’s indisputable that New York City is the ultimate place to see them through.