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November 23, 2016

John Vomhof Jr.Staff Writer

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For hardcore bargain hunters, it’s one of the most-anticipated publications of the year: Best Buy’s Black Friday ad.

Annually, it features some of the year’s top tech bargains, from big-screen TVs to virtual reality headsets. Eager shoppers line up outside stores hours before the doors open — or even pitch tents weeks in advance — to guarantee they’ll be able to scoop up the hottest doorbuster deals.

When it comes to Black Friday and holiday shopping, Best Buy is known for top-quality products, unbeatable prices and a world-class store experience (every store does a Black Friday “dress rehearsal” in advance to make sure the actual day goes smoothly and safely).

To get a better idea of how the Black Friday ad comes together, we talked to Jason Bonfig, one of Best Buy’s top merchants.

When do you start working on the Black Friday ad?

Jason: The process actually runs year-round. As soon as Black Friday ends, we start to look at what excited customers and what didn’t. Then we talk to our vendor partners to say, ‘When we partner again next year, here’s how we think we can improve it.’ We don’t lock in on all of the details that far out, but we’ll make sure we have a basic outline of what we want to do. And then we’ll start to talk more as we get closer to the next Black Friday.

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How do you determine what ends up in the ad?

Jason: At Best Buy, Black Friday is not just about low prices. We might be the least expensive or tied for the least expensive — that’s important, but that’s not the most critically important thing for our customers. Our shoppers often want some features and benefits that aren’t found on entry-level products. So we’re offering great deals on a lot of premium items that shoppers won’t find other places — things like higher-end Apple MacBooks, Samsung and Sony 4K UHD TVs, and many of the products on our Top Tech 20 list of the year’s must-have tech. We don’t pick brands people have never heard of. We have deals on some of the top products from the top brands,because that’s what our customers expect from us.

How do you balance between making sure you have the well-known product categories, like TVs, and some of the emerging technology that might be new and exciting for customers?

Jason: Customers will see a nice balance of the popular product categories — TVs, laptops, tablets, cameras and gaming — and categories we know are emerging. Examples include health-and-fitness wearable devices, virtual reality, drones and smart home products. We want to make sure we’re educating customers about emerging technologies while also providing the things they traditionally want and expect from Best Buy.

You’ve worked in retail for 17 years. How has Black Friday changed over that time?

Jason: It’s moved from what was, traditionally, a couple of days to what is now close to an entire month. Black Friday moves right into Cyber Monday, and many customers are shopping even earlier than that. There’s no break. So there are more deals now and, obviously, online shopping has dramatically changed things, too. Today, it doesn’t make sense to limit things by saying, ”The only way you can get these Black Friday offers is if you go to the stores on these one or two days.” That’s just not the way people shop nowadays. That’s why we offer customers great options online and in stores, all season long.

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You can see Best Buy’s Black Friday deals now. Most Best Buy retail stores will open at 5 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 24, and close at 1 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 25. Stores will reopen at 8 a.m. and close at 10 p.m. on Black Friday. For more information, check out our Holiday FAQ.

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