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…because they refuse to participate in the evil Black Friday Machine of Soul-Killing Greed.
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It appears these stores avoid ‘Black Friday creep’ by staying closed on Thanksgiving *Day*.. because I guess that’s a thing now. Being open on Thanksgiving itself. So, kudos to them for keeping Thanksgiving ‘sacred’, but some of them (*cough* Cabela’s *cough*) still participate in Black Friday insanity.
The real heroes of the tale are places like our local bike shop, which has a sign stating they’re closed today for Buy Nothing Day.
Why is either day sacred?
Why is bargain hunting?
I made no claim that bargain hunting is sacred. In fact, it’s not sacred. It’s also not something to be condemned.
Sorry – didn’t mean to imply you thought it was. Just pointing out that I think the condemnation comes in when (some) people make deal hunting such a sacred part of the holiday season that they place that desire above allowing their neighbors to enjoy one of only 10 nationally celebrated holidays we have left. Most in retail aren’t even getting MLK, Columbus Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day or the 4th of July anymore. (because of sales) If thanksgiving falls, there’s not much left beyond christmas and New Years.
24/7/364 stores already exist. My local supermarket does that. What I seem to have difficulty in getting through to some people here is that it’s insufficient to just go “here and no further”. What are we celebrating? How does that integrate in with our faith? Is this integrated in our fast/feast calendar? Is this better attacked as defiance of Caesar? After all it’s his holiday, not God’s. What does winning look like in this case? What’s the prize?
According to one local store manager, opening at 8PM on Thursday, as opposed to four hours later, did not seem to affect sales. The earlier opening simply moved the same shoppers forward, without attracting new ones.
If her experience is borne out by sales figures nationwide, perhaps we can put this “Gray Thursday” madness to rest.
Preliminary figures, on a national level, indicate that stores opening on Thursday merely cannibalized the business they did on Friday.
“The Thursday store openings did well,” said Bill Martin, founder of the research firm ShopperTrak. “But a lot of it was at the expense of Black Friday.”
Collectively, sales on Thursday and Friday were up 2.3 percent in brick-and-mortar stores over the same two days last year, according to ShopperTrak.
But foot traffic on Black Friday, traditionally the biggest shopping day of the year, was down more than 11 perfect over last year. Sales were off even more, down 13.2 percent http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/01/business/thanksgiving-openings-take-sales-from-black-friday.html?_r=0
We’ve been compiling a naughty and nice list for future shopping reference.
I don’t know why nobody does evangelization at pre-opening black friday lines. It’s a captive crowd (they won’t leave the lines) and obviously a target rich environment. What’s not to like?
You don’t get it the point is not to evangelize or persuade, it’s to belittle and bully. But only the truly evil of corse, like the Rich and the Torturers. They aren’t big on the Pharisee and the Publican parable here. They much prefer Lazarus since it obviously has no application to them.
I’m really trying not to get into a fight here. As I was reading the post the opportunity just struck me. Too late to set up for this year but black Friday isn’t going anywhere in 2014 so why not talk about that?
You actually mean to defend torture here? Or did you just get carried away in your zeal for Walmart?
I read it as more of a Francis style observation that you’re wearing out one note on the piano. Rereading his comment, I still do. It doesn’t mean that he’s right or not. I still would like you to address my idea.
It’s not super complicated. I think this is obscene: http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/worker-dies-long-island-wal-mart-trampled-black-friday-stampede-article-1.334059 I would patronize stores that do not encourage this obscenity.
I agree that the situation is horrible, awful. Had it happened 1 week prior or after this one, would the wrongness of the situation have improved one jot? I don’t think it would have been any better. But that would mean Black Friday doesn’t really matter.
There is a sickness going on but it’s not date related. We cannot cure it if we don’t accurately identify it. And we do have a religious obligation to do our part to cure it.
The idea that I hoped you would address is working the crowd prior to opening in order to evangelize.
I wasn’t so much defending either on the merits as I was objecting to the blog post’s over the top uncharitable generalizations about soul killing greed. My own view on Wal Mart/ Thanksgiving is that the controversy is largely phony. Most people who work or shop on that day are doing so voluntarily. I really am not in a position to judge their choices. Many of your posts on torture are similarly off putting, From time to time you have written some long form thoughtful articles making a strong Catholic case against what have been euphemistically called coercive interrogation procedures by our Govermment. On the other hand, calling everyone who disagrees with you a “torturer” is over the top, in many cases slanderous and at all events counterproductive. It doesn’t persuade anyone. If you aren’t trying to persuade or evangelize , what is the point?
I don’t call everyone who disagree with me a torturer. Speaking of over the top generalizations.
In principle, that’s great.
In reality, jeans cost $160 at Von Maur.
Yes, but don’t you realize it’s greedy to wear anything other than generic bargain basement blue jeans.
I am not clear who is greedy here in the sense of being truly sinful, the consumer looking for a bargain — often to make a gift to third parties or the store owners. If the latter, are they still evil if working on these forbidden days is entirely voluntary in the true sense of the term and they pay a premium wage for the overtime? Are they not evil if they limit the hours to those who have no families or for whatever reason (for instance Canadians who celebrate Thanksgiving in October or Native Americans who may object to the custom).
I am not clear who is greedy here in the sense of being truly sinful, the consumer looking for a bargain — often to make a gift to third parties or the store owners.
By the way the idea that it is a morally superior choice to shop at nordstum’s over Wal Mart is too funny. A temple of designer consumerism vs. a bargain basement modrn five and dime. How about Tiffany’s/ I bet they don’t have Black friday sales to tempt the poor.
I think the point is that when the bottom line becomes the only line, we’ve crossed a line somewhere.
An economic institution acts economically, why does this behavior surprise?
The whole institution of Thanksgiving is problematic for eastern Catholics (take a look at our fast schedule sometime). I don’t really have a solution for that. Compared to that, stores doing their best to sell bothers me much less. The apparent shoving and occasional violence are inexcusable though but I’m not sure if that’s properly laid at the feet of the stores.
Doesn’t make it right. If Thanksgiving is problematic for Eastern Catholics, then by all means, they don’t need to celebrate it. But the idea isn’t ‘stores doing their best’. The idea is that it is stores saying the bottom line is it. The only thing. Let’s not forget, the acquisition of money to the exclusion of any other conceivable priority is not necessarily a virtue grounded in the biblical narrative. Making money is fine. It’s how one makes it that’s the issue (and this is without getting into what these stores are willing to promote in order to increase their bottom lines). For most people, it’s not those fools shoving and pushing that is the issue. It’s those workers pulled from their families in order to serve that bottom line when it really isn’t needed (it’s wanted).
I think you confuse “bothers me much less” with “I give this my personal seal of approval” which I did not say. The relevance of easterness is that the american sovereign is giving a proclamation to effect a particular worship schedule and it conflicts with the traditional calendar of our rite, a secular feast in the middle of a fast. The stores are raising the digitus impudicus to the idea, so to speak. I understand the temptation for the reason I gave above.
The Church has a tradition of wariness when Caesar calls to worship at variance with our bishops. I’m just saying this is a three sided affair, not a two sided one. The sides are Caesar, mammon, and Christ. We might do well to tune our strategies to that fact.
I have no doubt that there are those who run afoul of this, or any other tradition. It is a mixed nation of mixed origins. But in this case, it’s not for any such concerns that it’s happening. Many called to work would rather be home. For them, it still is a special day for Family, and for some, it’s even a special day of Thanking God (and for some, that God revealed through Jesus Christ). The reason why they are not there with their families is because of the Bottom Line. A line that increasingly cares about itself and nothing else. That is the concern. If it was some deep, philosophical revolt against a tradition, then perhaps (it is what us moderns do). But that’s not why this is happening. It’s happening because of that all important Line. And there’s the rub.
I would suggest that you’re not accurately describing the situation and the inaccuracies have led you to close off your attention from larger issues that play out in a number of ways but here and now, specifically with workers feeling as if they had no choice but to agree to sacrifice their holiday.
When employees and employers are in better balance, employers do not dare ask unreasonable things because their work force can simply leave for other opportunities, costing them far more than they might gain from opening up on a holiday. It is the tremendous shortage we have of companies offering jobs that creates this and many other problems.
Oh, I imagine there are reasons for it, including the feeling workers have that if they don’t do this, they’ll lose their jobs. I’m well aware of that feeling. It’s not just that of course. Other Americans could refrain under the ‘do unto others’ principle. I wouldn’t want to be pressed into work on Thanksgiving. So for no other reason, I won’t go for those who only open for the bottom line. The reasons it has come to this are no doubt legion, for they are many. But for my part, I can choose to not support those companies who exploit the reasons for their bottom lines.
Of course refusing your employer in an at-will hiring situation carries a good chance of breaking the relationship, if there is plenty of labor unemployed at the time.
At tremendous cost and labor you might be able to suppress the expression of this labor/management bargaining leverage imbalance. The same effort addressed at the root causes would cure both this manifestation along with all the others.
Sure. The fact remains, they can stay closed and allow the employees the chance to stay home with their families. It worked for years. Fact is, most of the buying on Thanksgiving (and Black Friday) nowadays is not for gift giving. The whole reeks of ‘money, Money, MONEY!’, as opposed to considering that there is anything else in the world of value. And even if I didn’t care a rip about this particular day (which I do), I would consider that if it can happen here and now, it can happen in any other place and season. If, in fact, it hasn’t already. Perhaps that’s the problem. It isn’t as if Thanksgiving didn’t afford a chance for profit anyway. But it was, in some ways, the last day that wasn’t itself infringed upon by our increasingly money focused nation. If money was made, the day was off limits. Seeing it being cut into is symbolic of just one more area that is no longer off limits to the mighty dollar. And in a nation that already puts sex, drugs and stuff (and the greatest of these is cash) above almost anything else, that doesn’t bode well.
Well, we don’t necessarily disagree on what it is. I’m just suggesting something different about what to do about it.
I hold to my original suggestion of preaching the gospel and inviting them to Church while they’re waiting for the doors to open. What are they going to do, leave the front of the store to get away from you? Cry me a river if they do.
I didn’t shop on Thursday because I like to enjoy my Thanksgiving, nor on Friday because I prefer to avoid crowds. But I don’t favor applying Sabbath rules to secular holidays. Even the Pharisees did not go that far. Kirt Higdon
I don’t think for most people it’s Sabbath rules. It’s *why* it’s being done. Not because it has to be. And how it impacts those who must work and are thus not enjoying their Thanksgiving (a sort of ‘do unto others’ thing). This isn’t a job of mercy or necessity. This is to satisfy our ever growing lust for stuff. A lust heartily encouraged by said stores.
Don’t make the complicated, folks. Really it’s very easy. We have a national holiday in which people like to celebrate with their families. But more and more stores each year say, “No! All you minimum wage slaves tell yoru families to sod off, then you get to work!” . If there are still stores out there NOT doing this … they deserve some praise and thanks. . It’s really not more difficult than that. We don’t have to disect Sabbath regulationa or quote Keynesian economic theory. Basic human decency is really pretty simple.
Mark S (not Shea) steps in and says it better than I did.
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