For many shoppers and bargain hunters out there, Black Friday is like the Olympics of the retail world. And like any good athlete, you can't brave the sport without a little training and preparation. To help make your Black Friday a little brighter, The Sun has your shopping day planned according to store openings.
Whether you’re heading to Destin or staying in Walton County, we've got you covered. Stay safe in the crowds and remember to be nice out there. If you see someone fall trying to grab a $25 DVD player, extend a hand and help them up — 'tis the season to be kind after all.
4 p.m., Thursday — Our shopping journey begins in Destin hours after the Thanksgiving table is cleared. The award for earliest opening goes to Michael's craft store in Destin. Get a head-start on the holidays and maybe make it home before the madness begins. If the non-shopping guests you left at home have finished off the wine, you can grab a couple bottles from Wine World, which is open till 6 p.m. in Destin and Grand Boulevard. Head back out at 5:30 p.m.
6 p.m. — Even though it's not Friday yet, let the games begin! Brave the crowds at Best Buy, where folks have probably been in line since that afternoon. Or maybe think bigger and head to Wal-Mart in Destin or South Walton. An associate reports the store will be open all day Thanksgiving Day in case you forgot anything for the big meal. Then, the first rush of bargains begins at 6 p.m. and wrist bands will be handed out. If you want to stay home snuggled up with your third plate of food, there's no shame in that either.
7 p.m. — Old Navy in Destin at Paradise Key is open, but you might want to plan to get in line earlier. The first 500 in line in stores nationwide will get a chance to win $1 million. Second prize is 50 percent off everything in store.
8 p.m. — After you stock up on scarves and gloves, go next door to Destin Commons. While the Commons does not open until 7 a.m. Friday, a few stores are open at 8 p.m. Thursday including Victoria's Secret and Belk. Then hop across Highway 98 to Ulta for all-day deals on makeup and hair products. Walk a few steps over to Office Depot for tablets and 15 percent off iTunes giftcards — basically free money. At Bealls Department Store, you can enter to win $10,000 for your favorite local school. The first 500 in line get to vote. Then, make your way to Target where you can grab a cub of coffee at the Starbucks counter — sleep is for the weak. Alternately, you could head on down to Silver Sands Premium Outlet’s, which begins to open at this hour. But we are waiting till midnight when the real madness begins. At home, "A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving" is on television followed by "Lady Gaga and the Muppets' Holiday Spectacular."
11 p.m.: Get into position for Midnight Madness. Grab a bite at Waffle House on the way if you need a carb boost.
BLACK FRIDAY ARRIVES
12 a.m. — At Silver Sands Premium Outlet's, Midnight Madness won't wait until midnight this year. The after-Thanksgiving sale kicks off Thanksgiving night with more than 60 percent of the stores at the center opening at 8 p.m. Thursday, including: Adidas, Aeropostale, American Eagle, Ann Taylor, Asics, Banana Republic, BareMinerals, BCBG Max Azria, Brooks Brothers, Calvin Klein, Cater's, Columbia, Corningware Corelle, Crabtree & Evelyn, Crewcuts, DKNY, Dooney & Bourke, Eddie Bauer, Bass, GNC, Gold Toe, Haggar, Hartstrings, Izod, J.Crew, Jockey, Jones New York, Journeys, Juicy Couture, Kasper, Kenneth Cole, Kitchen Collection, Le Creuset, Levi's, Lids, L'Occitane, Loft, Michael Kors, Movado, Mrs. Fields, Nautica, Nike, Nine West, North Face, Oakley Vault, OshKosh B'gosh, Polo Ralph Lauren, Quiksilver, Reebok, Rockport, Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, Saks Fifth Avenue Off 5th, Samsonite, Saucony, Skechers, Solstice Sunglass, Talbots, Tommy Hilfiger, Tumi, Under Armour, Van Heusen, White House Black Market, Wilsons Leather, and Zales.
Opening at 9 p.m. Thursday are Coach, Fossil, Harry & David, Merrell, and San Gelato Café, and at 10 p.m. The Children's Place, The Cosmetics Company Store, Designer Fragrances, Disney Store, HanesBrands, Johnston & Murphy, Lacoste, Maidenform, Swarovski, and Time Factory Watch open their doors.
All Silver Sands stores will be open by midnight and the sales continue all weekend, concluding Dec. 1, when the center will be open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
5 a.m. — Congratulations! You have shopped 110 stores from end to end at Silver Sands, and the sun hasn’t even risen yet. Now that it’s the traditional start of Black Friday, you're already more than halfway done with the day. Dart back to Destin, where Bass Pro Shop is now open with plenty of gift options for your outdoor sportsman. Then head across the street and pay a visit to Ross Dress for Less and Bed Bath & Beyond.
6 a.m. — Stop in to the Donut Hole Bakery Cafe to replenish energy. Another Broken Egg and Harbor Docks are open for breakfast at 7 a.m.
7 a.m. — The sun rises on the busiest shopping day of the year. In the last stretch of Black Friday deals, Steinmart, Old Time Pottery and the rest of Destin Commons are now open.
8 a.m. — Local sports apparel retailer, End Zone Apparel is open. While your sports fans are busy watching the football games on television, surprise them with their favorite team's merchandise.
9 a.m. — This holiday, pledge to give books as part of Chronicle Books' GiveBooks nation-wide program. Head to Barnes & Noble or Hidden Lantern in Rosemary Beach to find books for the whole family. If you experienced a heel blowout from all that mall-walking, Shoe Salon across the street from Sandestin will also be open at 9 a.m.
10 a.m. — At Seaside, it's business as usual with hours of 10 a.m.-7 p.m. While you're in SoWal, you may need a caffeine refuel. Head to Amavida Coffee and Tea in Rosemary Beach or Seaside to recharge. Grand Boulevard stores will also see regular town center hours of 10 a.m. - 9 p.m. Friday, but several stores will open at 9 a.m.
11 a.m. — Sandestin's Black Friday Sidewalk Sale begins and lasts all weekend with specials like an additional 25 percent off the lowest ticketed price on all sale and clearance items for total discounts of 50 to 75 percent off at all five stores (Island Clothiers, Barefoot Princess, Coconut Kids, Toys & Treasures, and Sandestin Clothing Company).
Noon, Friday — Make it home in time for a lunch of Thanksgiving leftovers. Then go to bed and do it all over again on Saturday.
SMALL BUSINESS SATURDAY: In 2010, American Express founded Small Business Saturday, to give recognition to locally-owned businesses during the holiday spending spree. This Saturday, don't forget to stop in your favorite local boutiques for unique gifts. In DeFuniak Springs, enjoy a Craft Fair at Chautauqua Vineyards and Winery, 364 Hugh Adams Rd., from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, call 892-5887.
GIVING TUESDAY: There's a day for giving thanks and a whole weekend dedicated to bargain hunting. Now, a day for giving back. A coalition of more than 1,400 charities launched Giving Tuesday, or #GivingTuesday, last year to celebrate and encourage charitable activities that support non-profits. Participate by volunteering time or sending a check to your favorite national and/or local charity. Currently, the following Okaloosa and Walton County organizations have committed to participate in the initiative: The Boys and Girls Club of the Emerald Coast (bgcec.com), Children’s Advocacy Center, Children’s Volunteer Health Network (cvhnkids.org), Cultural Arts Alliance of Walton County (culturalartsalliance.com), Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation (dcwaf.org), Emerald Coast Autism Center (ecautismcenter.org), Family Life Ministries (familylife-sozo.org), Food For Thought Outreach (foodforthoughtfl.org), Habitat for Humanity of Walton County (waltoncountyhabitat.org), Horizons (horizonsfwb.com), Judge Ben Gordon Visitation Center (familyvisitationcenters.org), Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation (mattiekellyartsfoundation.org), Mental Health Association (mhaow.org), Opportunity Place (okaloosawaltonhomeless.org), Shelter House (shelterhousenwfl.org), Taylor Haugen Foundation (taylorhaugen.org), White-Wilson (white-wilson.com) and Youth Village (nelliesyouthvillage.org).