Forget Black Friday. This shopper sees red.

Written by on November 23, 2011 in Baltimore Voices - No comments

Call it a side-effect of the Occupy Movement that brings up the fact that there are more little people than big tycoons. Call it an enlightened consumer consciousness brought about by a weakened economy.

Or just call a spade a spade: people don’t want to work on Thanksgiving.

We’ve been seeing a lot in the news: big-box store employees calling the public’s attention to the fact that they are expected to work on Thanksgiving night in order to have the place ready for the crowds on Black Friday. (How much more ready do they really need to be? Stay late on Wednesday, people. It’s not rocket science).

And of course, there are plenty of signs up in store windows all over the place, stating the premises “will be open for your convenience on Thanksgiving Day.”

Whose convenience is that? Not the employees, who will have to leave their dinner early or even abdicate a national holiday.

Probably not managers and supervisors in such stores. They will have to deal with the problems that crop up. And the customers? There might be a few, but most of them like the idea of a holiday as well. In fact, they might even be more turned off by the idea of a company that doesn’t care whether its employees have a holiday. Maybe even enough to take their business to a store that does care.

Let’s face it: it’s for the convenience of the people who want to make money.

While we do live in a society of 24-hour convenience stores, 24-hour grocery stores, 24-hour home improvement stores, 24-hour big-box stores and more, isn’t it time to re-evaluate how much of that convenience is really….convenient?

Several decades ago, I spent a year studying in England. One of the first things I noticed was the fact that very few shops in my litle college town were open on Sunday. Surprised, I asked the dean why this was.

He laughed. “Because nobody wants to work on Sunday,” he said. “Would you?”

It was a wake-up call for me. If I wanted something for Sunday, I would have to get my shopping done another day. I adapted to the schedule, and came home none the worse for it.

Maybe that’s what is needed by the shoppers here who are misguided enough to think they need a Thanksgiving Day fix: adaptability. The motivation to get something done in advance. If a shopper thinks they’re going to need something on Thanksgiving, well, that’s what Wednesday is for. If they miss that chance, there’s always Friday.

And maybe that’s what stores need, too: the ability to tell consumers that their employees’ holiday is more important than that particular consumer’s lack of planning.

Could we please just enjoy Thanksgiving? Is it too much to ask?

I could use this opportunity to explore the idea of businesses being closed on Sundays, but that’s just too big an issue for the time being.
Don’t think I’m not thinking about it, though.

by Mary Helen Sprecher

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