By Nancy Dunham
It's ok. You can admit the very idea of Black Friday leaves you exhausted. When you're in Prince William County, though, you are near one of the greatest shopping meccas outside of New York City. Taking advantage of the day-after-Thanksgiving bargains can reap you plenty of extra cash without ratcheting up the stress level – you just need to plan ahead. The first thing you need to do is determine how far away you are from Potomac Mills Mall and the best route to drive there. Now you might consider that if it's not next door, you don't need to go there. Not true. Remember that it's a "must-stop" attraction for area visitors from around the world and you'll realize this isn't just some mall or another cheesy "factory outlet" with high retail prices. Potomac Mills is the real deal with real deals in 200 stores including Abercrombie & Fitch Outlet, Toys 'A Million, Toys 'R Us Holiday Express, Ikea, Skechers Outlet, Saks Fifth Avenue Off 5th, and many more. But in order to navigate the mall, find your bargains, and stay unruffled, you need to have a plan.
Here's what we suggest:
Don't be sidetracked. Yes, nearby Washington, D.C. retail centers and specialty shops get a lot of press, especially now that Michelle Obama has upped the fashion consciousness of the city. If you really want bargains on fashions and other goods, though, stay focused like a laser on Potomac Mills. The retailers there will have more can't-beat prices on top-of-the-line prices than anyone.
Make your list. Sounds simple but if you go into the stores without planning, you may miss a major deal. Look online for your favorite stores and join a website dedicated to Black Friday deals such as bfads.net.
Know where to go. Most, but not all of the stores in Potomac Mills will open at midnight on November, 26. Check online at simon.com or even call and ask retailers if they'll be open. Once you're inside, "Super Sale" signs will be in the windows of participating stores. It's also a good idea to plan which stores you want to hit and in what order. You can find where the Potomac Mills stores are located here.
Plan, plan, plan. Do you get sleepy late at night? Does your blood sugar level dip after a few hours? Remember that traffic on the main route to Potomac Mills will likely be heavy so bring some coffee and snacks so you don't tire out before you arrive.
Consider staying nearby. The Mills is so popular that many hotels have special packages for those that want to shop. Not only will you be closer to the shopping, but hotels offer gift cards, free breakfasts and more for those that book those packages. Find out all about those here.
Make parking a snap.
We all know that it's easy to lose your car in the super-large parking lot, especially after you've spent hours of walking. Take a photo of your car in the parking lot as close to nearby signs as possible. That way, you can refer to it and not waste time searching.
Don't forget freebies.
On Friday, anyone who makes $150 in purchases at the mall can get an "I Survived Black Friday @ Potomac Mills" t-shirt. Just go to Guest Service. From 5 a.m. to 1 p.m., State Farm will offer free coffee, bottled water and gift wrap. Watch for signs.
Savor the moment.
Don't miss the roving holiday entertainment by The Alexandria Singers from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sure, the day is about saving but it's also about enjoying the season.
Here's a quick reference guide about Potomac Mills. Review that and then enjoy! Hours: Closed on Thanksgiving Day, November 23. Open from 12 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Black Friday, November 26. Open from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday, November 27. Regular Mall Hours: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. Potomac Mills Mall is located at 2700 Potomac Mills Circle, Woodbridge, Va., 22912, just off I-95.
For more information including directions call 703-496-9330 or visit http://www.simon.com/