9 shopping secrets on Black Friday

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PITTSBURGH —

Target 11 uncovers nine shopping secrets that will lead to big savings of Black Friday, or even Thanksgiving night, with so many retailers opening on Thursday.  Consumer Reporter Robin Taylor found out how to snag the best deals.

I've talked to all kinds of experts, but I found some of the best advice comes from Black Friday shoppers, who have perfected their technique over the years.  One seasoned shopper shared her secrets.

"It can be a madhouse.  It's crazy.  The lines are ridiculously long," said Crystal Piontek, who has gone shopping every Black Friday for the past 11 years.

She's saved hundreds on electronics, jewelry, even luggage and she showed off a Steelers’ jersey she got for free..

"I only paid $15 for this," said Piontek, showing off a carry-on bag that regularly costs $139.

HAVE A PLAN

To get the best deals, you have to have a plan, and that starts with websites like www.blackfriday.com or www.blackfriday2012.com.

"When you're looking at the ads, you have to decide what is the most important item, to you, that year," said Piontek.

PICK A DESTINATION

Then Piontek picks a destination and maps out deals in that area. 

WAIT IN LINE

Retailers carry a limited number of doorbusters, so you have to be willing to wait in line for hours.

PICK ONE DOORBUSTER

Crystal picks one doorbuster and heads to that store right after Thanksgiving dinner.

"They're usually gone within the first 10-15 minutes, so you really have to go.  You have to have a plan," said Piontek.

BRING THE ADS WITH YOU

On Thanksgiving morning, Crystal goes over the ads one last time and then brings them with her, since most major retailers will match a competitor's price.

"That's what Walmart will price match, the actual hard-copy paper that you have," said Piontek.

DON'T GO OVERBOARD

Not everything is at its lowest price on Black Friday.  Retailers only offer deep discounts on a select number of items. 

"Clothes, they go on sale all the time, so I try not to waste my time in the dressing room," said Piontek.

CHECK FOR COUPONS

Crystal also searches for coupons and deals on Facebook and will even sign up for a credit card, if she will get a discount. 

NEVER SHOP ALONE

And she never shops alone.

"It also helps having a friend or family member with you because they can help talk you out of things.  Make it, kind-of rationalize things for you, because you're tired," said Piontek.

FINISH THE LIST

Once Crystal's gotten the doorbuster she came for, she focuses on finishing her list.  She does as much price matching as possible, so she doesn't have to drive all over town.

"Now that the stores open at midnight, you can be done shopping by 5am.  You can come home and still get a good morning's rest, I guess," said Piontek.

With so many stores opening on Thanksgiving, you could be done even earlier this year.

If you're trying to get more than one doorbuster, Crystal says you’re going to have to recruit friends or family members to split up and wait in different lines.

To find some of the best Black Friday deals, check out the ads online, but don’t forget to buy a paper and bring the ads that come out on Thanksgiving with you.