WANT Original Content
With Black Friday just around the corner the jury’s still out as to its merits.
Every year at Thanksgiving the story seems to be the same — stores promote their best deals ever, people flock to the stores, and pundits promptly criticize the entire “Black Friday” event, citing injuries, crime, and a decline in societal morality. Sure, Black Friday is far from perfect — it interferes with family occasion and people occasionally get hurt. But in today’s ever-growing consumerist culture, can’t it also be viewed as a bizarrely wonderful event rife with opportunities, memories, and adventures.
There are numerous Black Friday benefits. Most simply, stores sell a lot of stuff. People like deals and in thrill of the moment of Black Friday they often find themselves buying more than they might on a normal trip to the mall. This explosion of spending is great for small businesses and big box stores. Though they are selling some goods at a significantly reduced price, they are also selling more overall, ultimately boosting sales. This rise in sales and bottom line profits not only helps the company, allowing them to pay higher wages, create better products, and help improve the economy as a whole.
In addition, Black Friday promotes affordability. The extreme mark downs and super deals allow people to make their holiday special and buy things they might not have been able to afford otherwise.
Finally, Black Friday is a strange, but fun way to bond with a group of friends or family. The sense of adventure from going out with a group of friends to search tirelessly for the best deals and cutest finds promotes a bizarre sense of unity and generates great memories.
Late last week, a story broke about a man camping out outside a Best Buy in Philadelphia for the past three weeks so that he would be first in line to purchase a TV for $199 that usually cost $800. Sounds a little wacky, but the plan is that he is going to buy the TV and then raffle it off for charity. Whether you see this man as crazy or as a good samaritan, he happily epitomizes the spirit of Black Friday.
Black Friday — even the name has an ominous ring. Sure it offers good bargains, but is getting that new iPad that you don’t even need for $100 less than the normal price really worth braving a violent night of manic crowds?
The last Thursday in November we gather as a family, talk, share a meal, and give thanks for all we have on the holiday known as Thanksgiving. Yet, the next day, or even that same night, people are pushing aside their plate of turkey and heading out to shop. Strange, we move from giving thanks to heading out to buy more in record time.
People are injured and sometimes even killed on Black Friday. The excitement and thrill leads many to clearly manic behavior. People stampede when the doors open, knocking others down, threatening to trample them alive. Fights break out over electronics and sweaters being sold at extreme markdowns. In almost the blink of an eye, Thanksgiving goes from a holiday of love and family, to one of violence and greed.
As people crowd the stores late the night after Thanksgiving and well into the wee hours of the morning, they forget about the men and women who are working the stores to keep them open. These people are forced to sacrifice their Thanksgiving and stay up all night just to serve America’s greedy shoppers.
And, it’s worth looking at the so-called deals. In reality, they aren’t even that great. Popular teen store Urban Outfitters usual sale takes a measly 50% off their already picked-over sale section while tech giant Apple usually doesn’t knock more than $100 off its pricy products. Although many stores advertise Black Friday super deals, in reality you often end up buying things for a barely reduced price, all-the-while trying to convince yourself you’re getting a good deal.
Additionally, in today’s consumerist culture, people really don’t need more stuff and often can’t afford what they buy. The thrill and excitement of the potential for great deals on Black Friday prompts many to spend more than they should and buy more than they want. With credit card debt on the rise, the last thing people need is to be spending money they don’t have. The thrill of the holiday prompts many to buy a lot in the moment only to crash and burn when they get home upon and realize that none of their purchases are truly special.
Finally, we need to consider the small businesses. All the wonderful mom and pop stores that are trying desperately to peddle their wares to the Christmas gift buying crowd yet are hopelessly outmatched by the big box stores with no chance to match their lower prices. A gift from a local artisan should be much more meaningful than yet another piece of technology, yet small business are losing valuable revenue to one crazy night of super deals. Although events like “Small business Saturday,” sponsored by American Express, are doing their best to give the small guys a chance, Black Friday is a small business train wreck. As you sit with your family this Thanksgiving, try giving thanks for all you have, and putting this meaningless sham of a holiday called Black Friday aside.