I have said before that my Nana Mary was the quintessential bargain hunter. She and I were bargain hunting long before it was a thing. Family and friends even used to give her tasks, like “Hey Mary, I’m looking for such-and-such, do you think you can find me a good one at a good price?” and off she’d go! Of course this was long before the internet, so she’d search over the phone or go from store to store, and she loved it. I miss her for many other reasons, but I often wonder what role she’d play in this blog if she were still alive today.
Shopping is fun and so is finding great deals. Getting the most out of your time and dollars is important, and a whole underlying theme of this blog. But we’ve gone too far in trying to score great deals. I’m talking about Black Friday. Actually, Black Friday isn’t really even the correct term anymore since so many stores are open on Thursday–a new practice that is being called “Black Friday creep.” And that’s what I’m boycotting.
I returned an item at Walmart on Friday and started chatting with the person who was helping me. We chatted about the holidays and the pending Black Friday sales. I mentioned that I used to work in retail and was glad I didn’t anymore, as stores are just opening earlier, even midnight. She looked at me and said, “We’re opening at 8 pm. Actually, we’re not even closing at all on Thursday, but our Black Friday deals will begin at 8 pm.” Do you know why they are not closing? Remember a couple of years ago when a Walmart employee was trampled to death? Well, that tragedy happened while he was opening the doors. And Walmart’s response to that–don’t close the doors, just stay open. And since people still went there in droves, I’m starting to think we’ve lost our way.
Then she said that she has to work until 4 pm on Thursday and her family’s dinner is at 1 pm, so she likely will miss seeing some elderly relatives because they don’t like to drive in the dark. That’s just not right. This is part of the problem with Americans today–not who is running our government. It’s valuing things over people. Money over family time. Stock share prices over valuing your employees’ family lives and well-being.
When we value saving $100 on a video game or TV over human life and spending time with our family,
it’s time to take a step back and shift our priorities.
And so that’s what I will be doing for my own household and my blog. I will not be doing any of the following:
- shopping at any big box or department store, at any time during the holiday season (or ever again, if I can help it), if they are open on Thursday/Thanksgiving
- promoting any deal at any big box or department store that is open on Thursday (I will still promote stores like CVS or Walgreens, because they have always been open on Thanksgiving because they sell medicine and other necessities)
- promoting any deal at any big box or department store that does one of those “stays open 24/7 for the week leading up to Christmas.” If you cannot find time to shop for your kids at any other time except at 3 am a few days before Christmas, you do not need a 24/7 Toys R Us, you need a life coach.
For me and my family, I am shopping local first, then the internet. And no big box stores that support this practice.
Why have I just listed big box and department stores? Because they lead the way, they set the tone. I still want to be able to promote the smaller businesses that have shops in malls–I don’t feel it’s fair to actively not promote them when they really are strong-armed into the holiday hours. I bet it’s not the small crafter kiosk with 5 employees that is asking the mall to open at 8 pm or midnight. I’m all for a good shopping day with a friend or relative, but not on Thanksgiving. In my opinion, the best time of the year is Thanksgiving Day and the week leading up to Christmas. My husband’s Thanksgiving Day tradition includes the meal, then the movie Home Alone, making gingerbread houses and some family game time. Other families who do similar activities–I feel bad that some have to miss it just so that their company can sell doorbusters, doesn’t feel right. I know I’m just one small blogger and am probably not going to shut down Walmart’s entire Black Friday operation, but it’s one small thing I can do to support all the store personnel in all stores, who are giving up valuable family time because they need the work. It’s also a way I can lend support to the businesses (like Nordstrom’s) who stand up and say no to this and value families.
Opening at 6 am on Black Friday is sufficient. There’s no reason to open any earlier than that or have employees come in on Thanksgiving. It’s not a hospital, it’s a department store. Working on Black Friday used to be fun, even if we had to open at 6. We had food for everyone for their breaks, we did all sorts of sales games and contests and it was just a fun atmosphere. Now? I doubt it. How fun is it to try to get your employees that you’ve hired to work first or second shift to work the third shift? I guarantee you a lot of the work is falling on the backs of the salaried people. I don’t think it’s coincidence that this practice has blossomed when our economy is at it’s worst–people have less disposable income to spend, and people need jobs more than ever, so they can’t complain about working the overnight shift or long hours. Big businesses have taken advantage of both their customers and their employees.
If you are a loyal reader who isn’t on board with this idea, don’t jump ship just yet. I realize that I risk losing readers. Sure, I want the best value for my dollar too, and I promise I will still bring you plenty of options this holiday season. Those options just won’t include the big box stores, but there is still so much out there. I’ll be able to bring you more fun and interesting things–I’m very much looking forward to this. In fact, I’ve already got several different versions of “10 Alternatives to Shopping on Black Friday” started-an outdoors version, a cooking version and more.
Other points to consider-I have read in several places that the best deals are NOT on Black Friday. They are usually found the weekend before Christmas. Numerous other studies show that shoppers who go out on Black Friday are more likely to ignore their budget and overspend. Why? Because of the herd mentality–you see 12 people grabbing for an item that you had no intention of ever purchasing, then you feel like you have to have it. Before you know it, you have purchased 4 or 5 things because they were a great price and overspent.
My suggestion is to visit your local small merchants on Small Business Saturday and support them (or on Friday). Marketing would like us to believe otherwise, but you can survive and even thrive and have a joyous holiday season without Black Friday at the big box stores.There will always be other deals, no matter how much a retailer cries “Lowest prices this holiday season!” Yeah, right.
If this shopping is a tradition in your home, start a new one. Crafts, baking, helping others, reading holiday stories to my kids, a holiday movie marathon … these are some of the things I’m planning.
Really, what do you think the CEOs and executives of the big box stores will be doing? Hard at work in the stores or home with their families?