For the second or third year in a row now, the debate on stores being open for sales on the evening of Thanksgiving has been one of the more hotly debated subjects this time of year. Beginning the Black Friday sales the night before seems to have many detractors, and they aren’t afraid of voicing their opinion. Which is the way it should be…and I understand their point. Thanksgiving should be a time for family, and corporate greed shouldn’t take precedence on a holiday once untouchable as far as having big sales were concerned. All of that of course would begin in the wee hours of Friday morning when shoppers hopeful to score that once a year deal on an item, line up in droves to take advantage of all of the many Black Friday sales.
But I digress…I’m not here to talk about Black Friday…I’m here to talk about Thanksgiving, and stores one by one, and year by year, deciding to open the night before, thus “ruining” the Thanksgiving holiday of millions of families “together time.”
As you can probably tell by the title of this post, I have a slightly different opinion than most…well most of the people in my circle at least…judging by the amount of people who flock to these sales, my opinion is probably more in line with the majority. If not the majority, the opinions are split down the middle. Lets look at this from the other point of view just for a second, and I don’t mean the corporate cash-cow point of view…I’m talking about many of the people who volunteer to work the night of Thanksgiving, and the shoppers who support it as well.
First, the people working…While it’s true there are many who would rather not work, and would rather be with family, I have learned that a lot of the workers for the Thanksgiving sales are people who have volunteered to work-either for the extra pay around the holidays, or to get caught up on bills. Most employers pay time and a half, or even double time for holiday pay, so for many workers who have volunteered, it comes as a big help believe it or not. A lot of volunteers also, maybe volunteer to work because they don’t have family, or have lost family and the holidays can be depressing time for them. In their case, working a Thanksgiving “Black Thursday” sale is a chance to keep their minds off of things, and stay busy. Something with which I have no problem. Another thing to consider, is that many of the workers may have grown children, who have moved out on their own, and may have family with them for part of the day. A good example is my family…my mom and dad to be specific. My family has always enjoyed a big Thanksgiving lunch, and then spent the rest of the day relaxing, sleeping, being lazy…whatever it may be. When I got married, we had to start splitting time between my family, and my wifes family…meaning that we spent Thanksgiving lunch with my folks, and Thanksgiving dinner with hers. This in turn left my parents (and many others) with an evening much like every other one, with just the two of them at home. For people like this, working (or even shopping for that matter) is a choice that makes sense to them. Another example are people who have children live out of town and might not be able to make it into town for the holidays…It’s a chance for them to work and make some extra money, or a chance for them to get some shopping out of the way before the Black Friday madness.
Now…this is not to discount the people who have to work that would rather not, and who will miss time away from their families, but I believe we need to look at both sides of this. At the very least, the majority of detractors get to spend a good half a day or more with their families, so it’s not as if they are being asked to work and miss the entire day as the majority of these sales start in the late afternoon and evening. I do understand, and respect their opinion though…I do see their frustrations. But I also see the other side of it. There are people out there who appreciate the chance to work, and make some extra money...people who are in dire need of extra money-especially this time of year. For them, I’m actually glad they have a chance to work...and many of them are thankful for the much needed time and a half, or double time pay.
As far as the people who support it, I have no issue with them shopping either. Maybe their Thanksgiving days are stressful and they are looking for a chance to get out and do some shopping away from the madness of a wild and crazy family. Maybe the shopping is something they do as a family, and look forward to doing each year. Maybe again, like my folks, they find themselves home alone in the evening and it’s a chance for them to get out and beat some of the Black Friday crowds to get some Christmas shopping done. After all, they’ve had their big family lunch and a night out shopping is time together as much as it is at home. I really have no issue with it. There are quite a few people who don’t have a problem with it, as is evidenced by the numbers each year…there are obviously enough people going and supporting the Thanksgiving evening sales to justify keeping the stores open. It’s obviously not hurting their Thanksgiving.
Now...I know you’ll say “but there is people who’s Thanksgivings are being hurt” and you would be right. But in most cases, the people upset over having to work on Thanksgiving are at least getting to spend a half a day if not more with their family for the holiday. It doesn’t necessarily take away the frustration, but it’s better than nothing, and it is what it is...I have a feeling that like it or not, it’s here to stay, and while I’m not saying “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em”, I am saying that many people volunteer to work this sale, and want to work this sale, and for financial reasons, need to work for the extra money to keep afloat...or to keep their minds off of things that might make their holidays less than enjoyable. We need to consider everyone and there are two very equal sides to this issue.
I certainly understand both sides to this story and both sides have a valid point. But based on the people I’ve talked to, heard from and know of, the other side of things isn’t as bad as I think people are making it out to be. I certainly don’t advocate boycotting stores that open on Thanksgiving, because by doing so, would be denying people who want to be there, and who need to be there a chance to work...and it would deny those who do shop a chance to do something they choose to do, and enjoy doing. Just because you wouldn’t shop yourself on Thanksgiving, doesn’t mean you have to attempt to take that right away from those who do, by way of petitions, and boycotts. There is a whole other point of view out there different from yours, and it has nothing to do with corporate greed and stores opening early to make more money. While their motivations to open may be ill conceived, and outright crummy, there are some positives that come from their decision. Ask the person who is struggling to pay rent, or pay their electric bill because of the cold weather. Ask the person who lives paycheck to paycheck barely making ends meet, and who can’t afford Christmas gifts for their children. For them, it’s a way to make the extra money so they can do those things...pay the electric bill, rent or provide some sort of Christmas for children who otherwise would not have a Christmas. Ask the lonely mother who has 2 children, both living out of state and neither able to make it for Thanksgiving, who sees it as a chance to not have to be home alone on a holiday evening. Ask those who sadly are depressed during the holidays for whatever reason, and they see this as a chance to keep their minds off the issues they are dealing with over the holidays. Ask those who (as oddly as it may seem) enjoy a crazy evening of shopping with their family...for many it’s a bonding experience.
We all have a choice. Support it or not. If you don’t want to go, thats great! If you do want to shop, good for you too. I just don’t believe it’s worth getting that riled up for...especially if you look at it from the point of view of many of those who work the evening on a volunteer basis. I also find it ironic that many of those who complain and scream for boycotts of stores who do this, are the same people who attend, or flip on their TV stations to watch one of however many NFL football games are being played on Thanksgiving. There is no difference. It’s a game. It’s entertainment. And for your entertainment, there are many people who actually have to work (and I’m not talking about the football players who are paid well for their services) on the game day staff and who do not get to spend time with their families either. Many of them making the same or less than those in stores...stadium crew...concessions, etc. And it’s supported by you, the consumer.
Now, a year ago, I might have a different opinion on this whole matter. In fact I did. I was ready to boycott and throw these corporate hogs under the proverbial bus, but I kind of see things in a different light this year. I’ve heard stories from people I come into contact on a daily basis who work at these stores...the Walmarts and the Targets. I ask them how they feel about having to work on the holiday. Surprisingly enough, many are thankful, grateful and joyous for the chance. Many still get to see their families for Thanksgiving, and they get the overtime pay. It’s the best of both worlds for them. I never stopped to consider how far the overtime pay might go for those less fortunate and in dire need of help. For them, it goes a long way...and when I tried looking at it from their shoes, I changed my tune. And thats why I have no problem with stores starting their Black Friday sales on Thanksgiving.