Monday, November 28, 2011

Black Friday/Cyber Monday

Well, it's that time of year.  I noted on my Thanksgiving post that I would write about Black Friday-and fully intended to but I was SO VERY aggravated and then as the day went on and news reports started rolling in  that my aggravation turned to anger and I thought it best that I wait.

First- I must admit (again, for those who don't know) that I am not a "shopper".  I have told my hubby for years that he is pretty darned lucky because I don't like to shop for anything other than groceries (LOVE grocery shopping) and that my hands are so small that despite my love of diamonds, especially rings, that even the most beautiful ring over a half carat looks like a fake on my hands.

My aggravation began with the fact that some of the retailers (specifically ToyRUs, Walmart and Target) decided to open on Thanksgiving.  I have never really cared that they open at 6am on Black Friday.  If people want to stand in line for a 6am opening- that is their business- but opening on one of the only two holidays that even retail observed- just sent me over the edge.

My son's girlfriend has two small children.  She is a single mother and, as we know, he has been here visiting our family.  She also happens to work for one of the retailers that decided to open early.  She found out when their schedule came out that she had to be at work at 1am Black Friday morning.  That meant that she had to find childcare in the middle of the night. Despite what some people think- there was no choice.  She was not given the option of working or not, she was told she would- period. We were all thankful that she has her mother to watch the kids- and that her mother was willing.  It made me think- how many other single parents were compelled to leave their children in the middle of the night to be in these stores across the country so that people could come in and act like animals over some stupid television or other "limited quantity" item?  How many of them, courtesy of the retailers decision to open early, had to leave their families early on Thanksgiving to *try* to get some sleep so they could be there?

Now- another caveat- I work in retail.  I absolutely understand the need to capture sales whenever possible- but you don't see me extending my hours beyond reasonable times during our version of "Black Friday".   You also don't see me allowing the same bad behavior over and over.  This year, in addition to the usual injuries from people being knocked down and trampled as the crowds ran toward the "door buster deals" we saw two people shot and two separate incidences on opposite sides of the country where pepper spray was used in large crowds.  How is this okay?  In what kind of society do we see this crap every single year and not only do "we" do it over and over but we invite it earlier and throw in more of these "special deals" through out the night to incite a frenzy!?!  This is not to mention the idiots who slept out in front of these stores (some WITH CHILDREN) to secure their place in line as early as Wednesday.

I hit my tipping point by the attitude of consumers leading up to all of this.  An employee from Target put gathered signatures and delivered petitions (over 190,000) to Target's corporate offices to no avail.  A "page" was created on Facebook and the story picked up on media sites all over the country.  While many sympathized with these employees and felt that there was no need to interrupt the holiday for a few extra hours of madness, even more flooded the message boards and comment sections on the stories online telling those who agreed that they "should be ashamed of themselves" and that "these employees should just shut up and be grateful to even have a job."  They actually had the nerve to compare these employees, the majority of whom are working at minimum wage and are just trying to make ends meet, with police officers, fire personnel, nurses, and our military!  Really?  Is someone going to DIE because they didn't get a 42" flat screen for $200.  I somehow doubt it- but they might just die in the crowd trying to get to it!  **Side note** did you notice that it is always the SAME stores where this occurs?  And it is the same stores that keep opening earlier and earlier?  I see a direct correlation.**

Obviously, I am disgusted with all of this.  The thought that we have become so consumer driven that all of this behavior is "okay" literally makes my stomach turn.  I normally opt out of the Black Friday madness but hit the rest of the weekend and  Cyber Monday pretty hard to get my shopping done in one big swoop.  This year, because of all of this and because stories are still emerging, I made a decision.  I am not giving my money to any of the retailers that opened before 6 am.  I am just saying NO.  No Target, No Walmart, No Best Buy, No ToyRUs.  There are a lot of stores out there that don't encourage this.  There are a lot of stores out there that still value Thanksgiving, that still value their employees, enough that they did not give in to the "peer pressure" and extend their hours this way.  My budget will more than likely not stretch as far- but I am okay with that.  I can get creative and find ways to get all of my gifts for the people that I want without supporting these stores.  As I see the ads come in, I will do a bit of research and see what time the stores opened (in case I missed any) and make my decision based on that criteria.

SO that's my rant.  I normally enjoy the whole process of choosing gifts for my friends and family but here we are, the Monday after Thanksgiving, and I am just not feeling it at all.  I am hoping that as I begin searching and finding gifts, the spirit of the season overcome the disappointment that I am feeling at the moment.


abcsofra said...

Rant away! I try to support local businesses only with my money. It stay in my local economy and none of them open or force their employees to work these crazy hours. I have never liked Black Friday and never participated in the madness but for the past 6 years or so I am bound and determined to try and buy as much american made and local as I can. That is where I will throw my two cents :-)

Anonymous said...

Jules - I'm with you!!! I support all that you're saying and I am sorry that your son's girlfriend had to cut her holiday short to get to work for overnight. I hate, hate, hate it.

I'm not much of a shopper either. It has always been my habit to stay away from the box stores and only patronize them when absolutely necessary. I have always advocated buying local and small.

I did head to a local small village for small business Saturday and bought a few items. I will go back there for a few more and get some other items from local merchants and that will be it. No big box stores for holiday shopping for me.


Jules said...

I am glad I am not alone ladies! I too am going with smaller stores. It may cost a bit more but the lack of stress alone will be worth it!