To shop or not to shop

…that was the question one of my closest friends asked me today, after I posted another Facebook link decrying the expansion of Black Friday into Thanksgiving (and, let’s face it, all the way back to Halloween!).

She asked if she was a “bad person” for shopping on Thanksgiving.

My reply?  “You’re feeding the machine, but it’s not good or bad.”

And it really isn’t.

Don’t get me wrong.  I don’t shop on Thanksgiving — at least, not at the big box retailers feeding the greed of the season.  There is nothing on sale at the big boxes on Thanksgiving that I can’t get later in the weekend, or in the season.

Now I do go out to dinner on Thanksgiving – I’m a cooking-impaired single guy.  If I tried to cook a turkey, I’d either smoke out the apartment or be eating turkey sandwiches until MLK Day.  It’s more efficient to go to a turkey buffet (and I overtip the servers who are stuck working on the day).  And I might be out late in the evening to join up with others who either don’t have family in town, or are eager to get away from them.

I can see a convenience store (or the modern pharmacy/grocery stores like Walgreens and CVS) being open on the holiday.  You might need cold medication or a couple bottles of soda on Thanksgiving.  And restaurants are always willing to serve those like me who tend to only make reservations for dinner.

But for the life of me, I don’t see what the big boxes need to sell on Thanksgiving night that they can’t sell on Black Friday morning.  For them, it’s about desperation and greed — their desperation to sell anything and our greed for what appear to be good deals.  Of course, they’re not.  They’re knockoff items or discontinued or otherwise not exactly what you think they are…

There’s a point where common decency should set in.   As many people as possible should have Thanksgiving off.  And those who do have to work should work as short of a shift as possible.

We don’t have to be on sale 365 days a year.  363 would do.

I do have some experience with this — I remember annual disagreements with the bowling centers I worked in when I was a kid.  They always opened Thanksgiving night (and some on Christmas Eve night) and I always thought it was bad form.  Sure, we did business.  Sometimes, we did well.  But for me, and the other kids who worked with (and, later, for) me, it meant giving up part of the holiday… and even then, I didn’t really feel it was a fair trade.

So when you go shopping for pre-Black Friday bargains this Thursday night, remember this — those folks you’re barely noticing in the store uniform and nametags?  They’re away from their families because they have to be.  You don’t.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Author: Rob Hoffmann

Occasional blogger, slightly less occasional improv player/ref/tech, full-time computer techie, radio producer (basketball, mostly), generally nice person (if you ask me).

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