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Surviving Black Friday

It’s the most wonderful time of the year for employers and customers alike.

Black Friday deals can make or break your fiscal year. The Friday after Thanksgiving officially kicks off the holiday shopping season and to herald the time of spending, many major retailers offer deals not available any other time of year.

Here’s some advice on how to survive Black Friday:

1. Buy on the Internet

Probably the best way to deal with Black Friday is to stay home. Avoid the crowd, the rush, the tug-of-war with that woman who didn’t shower this morning…you might be able to get the same deal online without rising out of your turkey-induced coma.

2. Preparation

Assuming that you can’t get your deal online or something is just too good to pass up, prepare for the rush. I’m not talking just mentally. Some deals are time sensitive. You might need to be somewhere between 10 am and 11 am just to get that 60″ HDTV. Make sure you know where. Also, if you don’t want to look like an amateur, know when the stores open and close so you can plan accordingly.

3. Know your deals

To ensure you’ll be getting an actual bargain rather than a ho-hum or too-high price, visit Web sites such as BizRate.comShopping.com andPriceGrabber.com as you’re doing your research to get a sense of how much items should cost.

4. Make a list

Again, without a list, this is amateur hour. If you go out on Black Friday “just browsing”, you’re crazier than I thought.

5. Bring a buddy

You need somebody who’s got your back. A Goose to your Maverick. When things get crazy (and they will), you don’t want back-up that will flake out, start bickering, or whine about the crowds. You need a support system. Choose wisely.

Good luck out there.

Wal-mart in sexual discrimination case

Wal-mart has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to stop a sex-discrimination case brought by its female employees.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is appealing an April ruling that authorized the class action, which could include over 1 million female workers. Wal-Mart allegedly practiced widespread discrimination in its pay and promotion practices. The lawsuit was first filed by six women in federal court in 2001.

A divided Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals had allowed the lawsuit to proceed, saying mere size should not be a reason for dismissing the case. The litigation could involve billions of dollars in damages and has been described as the largest sex-discrimination class action ever.

Saying the workers are seeking billions of dollars in back pay, Wal-Mart told the justices that the claims of workers around the country were too diverse to proceed as part of one lawsuit.

The Supreme Court will have to decide whether to hear the appeal.

Stocks rally Tuesday

The long holiday weekend has breathed life into the stock market. Stocks have rallied on Tuesday. Investors went after shares hit when indexes down over 15% over the past two months.

Both the Dow and Nasdaq closed at an eight month low on Friday. The Dow Jones was up by 140 points or 1.5%. The Nasdaq composite was up 38 points, about 1.9%.

Gains were broad based, with 29 of 30 Dow shares rising, led by Caterpillar, Chevron, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Microsoft, JPMorgan Chase, 3M and Wal-Mart Stores.

Progress from banks are helping to drive the recovery. Bank of America was up 2.5% and the KBW bank index was up 2.6%.

The Glory of the DVD Bin

Every once in awhile, Wal-mart or Target or any number of locations haul out a big cardboard box, throw their overstock of DVDs into it, and mark them all down to some ridiculously low price. Usually starting around $5.99, my mother told me there was nothing worthwhile in these bins.

She is wrong.

The DVD markdown bin holds a bounty of treasure. All you have to do is dig. For example, I found a copy of Space Camp. Space Camp is one of those movies that you loved when you were a kid, but when you see it as an adult, you start to wonder about yourself. How could I love a movie that was so bad? It’s a movie so bad, it’s good.

Sometimes, after a bad day, you need a bad movie to cheer you up. Or, after a good day, you need to end on a laugh.

You need to own Space Camp, but paying anything more than $5.99 for it is a crime.

The DVD bin is a societal necessity. The thrill of the hunt returns to humanity in your neighborhood super store. Bow and arrows in aisle five.

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