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The New Economy

Meet the Black Friday mavens

Whether its Black Friday deals online or in stores, meet the mavens who bring all the sales information together.

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The team at TGIBlackFriday.com got into the deals game through the site dealcatcher.com. With four full-time staff and several part-time Black Friday season hands, they count as a full-blooded corporation in the realm of online discounts.

Public validation of a good deal is a big part what keeps CFO Kevin Kahn’s days at the office worthwhile.

“Seeing that people agree that it’s a good deal, that’s what really keeps it going,” Mr. Kahn says.

It’s a search that can get a bit expensive. After finding a great deal, Kahn says the TGIBlackFriday staff end up “buying them half the time, which can sometimes backfire because we spend a bunch of money.”

TGIBlackFriday is the first Black Friday site to create a smartphone application, allowing consumers to sort Black Friday sales by retailer and category, compile shopping lists and search for specific items.

“My wife and I would go to Kohls and she’d be picking something up with her 30 percent off coupon and I was seeing if it could be cheaper on Black Friday,” Kahn says.

It’s the mobile frontier where Kahn says Black Friday sites will compete in the future.

“I know they’re going to. They’re going to blow up with all those,” he says.

How do Black Friday mavens shop?

Although they’ve been built off the energy generated by the in-store Black Friday deals, most mavens do the majority of their shopping, Black Friday or otherwise, online.

Vincent can’t remember the last non-grocery item he purchased from a brick-and-mortar store. Even Brim, who began his career as a Black Friday in-store warrior, has eschewed consumer combat for the last several years.

“Especially in the holiday season, avoiding the lines and parking in the malls it’s so much easier to order stuff online and normally it’s the cheaper price,” Vincent says.

And cheaper because not only are Black Friday mavens plying the Internet for the latest deals but also because a broad network of leakers fill their inboxes with top-quality scans of retailer’s ads.

The Black Friday mavens all rely on the broader Internet community of message board fanatics and online shopping pros to slip them retailer’s circulars year after year. While some leakers have become regular sources, others send circulars to the mavens’ inboxes unbidden. Its this network of sources of all kinds that means the current crop of Black Friday sites feel assured that their traffic will only grow in years to come.

Unless, as Vincent points out, “somebody who works at a printing press sets up their own site.”

See also:

Mobile shopping on Black Friday

On Black Friday sales 2009, can Amazon compete with Wal-Mart?

The story behind the leak of Wal-Mart's Black Friday deals

Are Black Friday’s years numbered?

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David Grant is a Monitor contributor. What are the best Black Friday deals on the market right now? Let us know on Twitter.

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