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Smart shopper finds Black Friday bargains without driving herself nuts

LeylArsanuses 'Shop Savy' check price for her Black Friday shopping. Friday November 25 2011 | Brian Jackson~Sun-Times

Leyla Arsan,uses "Shop Savy" to check a price for her Black Friday shopping. Friday, November 25, 2011 | Brian Jackson~Sun-Times

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Updated: December 27, 2011 8:06AM

Web-savvy shopper Leyla Arsan won bargains for her holiday gifts using digital media amid the hubbub of deal-seeking Black Friday shoppers. And she did it without shopping in the dark of night.

Arsan, a Gold Coast resident who specializes in digital marketing services, began her day about 9 a.m. with doorbusters at Kiehl’s eight-day-old Midwestern flagship store at 520 N. Michigan Ave., the skincare retailer’s second store in Chicago.

Arsan learned of the Mag Mile store’s opening when she received a Tweet about it. The New York-based store “Tweeted” followers about its Black Friday doorbusters, including a free eight-ounce tub of Crème de Corpes body butter — $35 at full price — with an $85 purchase.

Arsan said she usually isn’t tempted by bargain come-ons, and she stuck to her gift-buying budget.

“I’m better off zeroing in on things I really need, even if I end up paying full price, rather than wandering,” she said.

At Original Penguin clothing retailer on the Near North Side, Arsan held up her smartphone loaded with a ShopSavvy app to scan the price-tag barcode on a boy’s shirt. The app offered no better deals nearby, so she bought a dark-blue thermal shirt for a friend’s son for $21 — 40 percent off the original price, as was everything in the store for Black Friday.

No one during the shopping trip gave her even a funny look as Arsan snapped the price-tag image and tweeted about her own bargains as well as a limited-hour 40-percent-off sale at Old Navy.

That’s because Arsan wasn’t alone. Nearly six in 10 Chicago shoppers — up from about four in 10 last year — used mobile devices to check holiday bargains at Chicago-based shopping-deals website Brad’s Deals ( this past week. Chicago also ranked No. 5 in a separate survey of shoppers who made the most mobile purchases using Paypal on Thanksgiving Day.

At Flight 001, a travel store, Arsan made her own stocking stuffer for $20 by selecting from a variety of travel-size pill boxes, paper soap, hand lotion, a dental kit and other items that fit into a zip-up plastic bag.

For the trip to REI outdoor apparel store in Lincoln Park, Arsan used Uber, an app-driven car service that flashed on her smartphone the nearest driver, how long he would take to pick her up, his name, and offered a star-based rating system.

At REI, Arsan zoned in on socks made of “smart wool,” a softer-than-usual yarn from New Zealand sheep. She stayed in the 25-percent-off aisle to buy ultralight crew and running socks.

The final $231 tally is about half what Arsan intends to spend this holiday.

Her family helps by making suggestions for practical items. “My mother wants a nice garbage can, like the ones you can buy at the Container Store for $100,” she said.

Arsan finished up her bargain-hunting in a reasonable five-hour trip.

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