Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Boycott Stores on Thanksgiving and Christmas

Big box retailers Target, Toys-R-Us, and Best Buy are among the chain stores who will open their doors at midnight or even earlier this year on Thanksgiving night.

I won't be there to greet the holiday shopping season, and for that matter I won't spend a dime in any store anywhere on Thanksgiving day or Christmas day.

Enough is enough.

For salivating shoppers who have created a holiday tradition out of attending "black Friday" door-buster sales, these midnight openings may add a fun and twisted new element to the holiday shopping circus. For tens of thousands of retail employees though, this represents another thoughtless business decision that further separates people from the essence of what makes holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas special - the opportunity to take a single day away from the rat race, to breathe deep and reflect on what really matters, and to spend quality time with people you love.

I understand, better than most, that retailers are scrounging increasingly harder every year to capture their piece of the all-important Christmas pie, and frankly, while the commercialization of Christmas can be a bit annoying from time to time, that's not what bothers me.

What I am frustrated by is the slippery slope that retailers are on wherein the need to make a few extra bucks completely supersedes the mental and emotional well-being of their employees. Having to work (or sleep in preparation for work) on one of the last two hallowed days left in the calendar is not just a drag, it's a demoralizing punch in the stomach.

I expect the businesses I patronize to be responsible "corporate citizens," and for me that extends beyond having a recycling program or a charitable foundation to genuinely caring about the welfare of their employees. Businesses should take care of their own, not take advantage of them.

So what are we supposed to do about this? As a former retail boy, I signed this online petition (along with more than 100,000 other people) started by a Target employee asking his company not to open at midnight on Thanksgiving, and more importantly, I will let my shopping choices speak for me. I won't boycott these stores for the entire holiday season (that would only hurt the thousands of folks who work for these otherwise decent companies), but I will choose to discourage ridiculously extended shopping hours by spending no money in any store on Thanksgiving or Christmas. Like people, businesses will change a behavior when it no longer benefits them.

For the record, there's no need to visit the grocery store on one of these holidays either. Whatever you didn't buy before the holiday, you can live without. Your Christmas dinner won't be ruined if your fresh-baked rolls have to be slathered in margarine because you ran out of butter, but if you head to the grocery store, someone else's Christmas dinner will be.


  1. Hey Jeff! I worked under you at Borders and I remember the stressful holidays working there. I agree with you 100% and I hope this message spreads quickly. Happy holidays!

  2. I had similar thoughts when I heard about these midnight openings, Jeff. I very much enjoy Black Friday shopping, but I do not plan to be at any of these retailers at midnight.

    Why can't we all just agree to shop at 10am and stop the madness?

    Thank you for your thoughts. Very well said.

    ~John Potter

  3. Scott - Thanks for taking time to read the post and comment. This year will be my first post-Borders (and non-retail) holiday in 20+ years, and I can't wait. I hope your holiday is relaxing too! Great to hear from you.

  4. Hey John P - I appreciate the comment. I agree Black Friday shopping can be a really good time. For many people the 5am hustle to Target or Best Buy has become a new holiday tradition. I just hope we can stop it there and not let this "new" holiday tradition become an obstacle to so many people's ability to enjoy the actual holiday.

  5. I always hate it when I hear that companies are open on Thanksgiving and Christmas, among other days. I agree that it should be a time of family, friends, and relaxation.

    Might want to add Lowe's to the list, though. I worked there from liquidation at my Borders store this spring all the way through the summer, and just got out a month ago now that I'm at B&N. They're open every single day of the year besides Christmas (though at least they give them that much, though it's not really saying much honestly). I believe they're open normal hours on Thanksgiving, which to most of them is until 9pm. :/