Black Friday BLACKOUT

Normally, I try not to go out too much on Black Friday – I realize that we’re encouraged to start our holiday season shopping as early as possible, so retailers can drain what’s remaining of our disposable income – but I often end up hitting a sale or two. I’m NOT the one who goes out for the sales that require standing in line at 4am or queuing up endlessly in a sea of hundreds, hoping to shove through the scrum to get to the two laptops that are actually at the price advertised in the sale flyer. Still, I haven’t ever really sworn off Black Friday: until now.

Enter Target – a store where I shop early and often. While I was shocked to see a gigantic sign on the side of a Kohl’s that advertised the store opening at 1am (really people? 1 AM?!), I was horrified to hear that Target was opening at 12:01am. Even worse, other stores are opening even earlier – backing Black Friday up into Thanksgiving day.

It was at this point that I just snapped. I won’t boycott Target; I’d much rather boycott the entire day. Here, you have merchants in an arms race to see who can open earlier and earlier until the Thanksgiving holiday turns into a quick turkey sandwich at 2am before you have to rush out to meet the shoppers who want to get the deals before they watch the Cowboys beat the snot out of some poor, unsuspecting team.

So, I decided to make my own Black Friday special: the Black Friday BLACKOUT.

I want to encourage everyone to skip the stores. Skip the sales. Show merchants that you want them to return to some semblance of sanity and treat their employees like REAL PEOPLE DESERVING OF A HOLIDAY by not shopping. Then, instead of heading to the mall, either pop open your laptop or head to the grocery store. Donate at least $10 to your local food pantry. Why? Well, any time of year is a good time to donate to a food pantry, but winter is a particularly hard time for a lot of families to cope, especially when it’s a choice between food or presents. I don’t know whether I’ll have time to leave the house on Friday, since I’m deliberately skipping the sales and choosing to bake and hang out with the family. If I make it out, I’m only going to the grocery store to get canned and boxed goods to donate. Otherwise, I’ll just donate online. I’m a particular fan of the Greater Boston Food Bank.

Want to join me? It’s easy.

Here’s what you do:

1. Agree not to take part in Black Friday madness – vote with your feet!

2. Promise to donate either food or $$ (min. $10, if you can manage it) to your local food pantry. Note that many houses of worship also run food pantries, and they can direct you to others as well. Otherwise, just hit up Google Maps and search on “food pantry near” your town.

I’m not saying don’t shop for holiday gifts. I’m not saying that you should snub local merchants, either. My point is that these retailers are freaking out and forcing people to work insane hours in the service of greed, not the “holiday season”. If enough of us choose NOT to participate in Black Friday madness, maybe they’ll change their minds. I’ve worked plenty of retail in my day, and the thought of having to skip Thanksgiving with my family because it’s either that or lose my job…well, that’s just crap, and I refuse to support anyone doing that to their employees.

Who’s with me?

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