Long: Black Friday unfairly encroaching on Thanksgiving

Craig Long

Walmart’s sales start at 10 p.m. Thursday. Target, Kohl’s, Kmart, Best Buy, Macy’s, Old Navy, Shopko and many others open at midnight Friday. Christmas music has started at Walmart and Scheel’s. Online sales have started at Old Navy/Gap/Banana Republic and Amazon.

What have we done? Thanksgiving has disappeared. It was passed over, forgotten between the kids’ costumes and candy of Halloween and the faux pine trees and lights of Christmas. We jumped from the beginning of fall to the middle of winter, and if you don’t believe me, go and look at how much fake snow is spread around the Christmas displays of various department stores. Compare that to how much snow has fallen so far in town. Winter is here, but only if you look indoors.

Black Friday is an unofficial holiday, but sacred to many people. Families reunite over turkey and football, then arise early in the morning and go tearing through stores, getting in fistfights over Tickle-Me-Elmo, or whatever the best toy of the season is. I’m not proposing that we abolish it, or ignore it by any means. Its effect on the economy is greater than any other single day during the year and, to be honest, we get more and better gifts because of it.

But this holiday is unique in that it is moving. It is moving slowly, for now. It migrated from 4 in the morning on Friday in to Thanksgiving and earlier still, thanks to online sales. I didn’t think it could possibly get earlier than 4 a.m. on Friday, but it has. Walmart has broken the boundary, by beginning their ad at 10 p.m. on actual Thanksgiving day.

However, why in the world this holiday has proven to be mobile, I don’t know. Everyone wants to get a deal, sure, and you’d better believe that companies compete for the ultra-shoppers who get all of their shopping done on Black Friday. Previously, they competed by trying to have the lowest price, but now that isn’t good enough. Capitalism has driven us to have our first mobile holiday. Every extra dollar that one company can steal from another by being open a minute earlier counts.

I would like to think that it won’t get earlier than late Thanksgiving night, but let’s be real. Many families have dinner in the early afternoon, what is stopping certain stores from opening at 6 p.m. next year? Or earlier still? How does Black Wednesday sound? There’s no reason it couldn’t be before Thanksgiving, large crowds could still be drawn after work on Wednesday.

It shouldn’t be this way. Thanksgiving, a sacred holiday in our country, dating back to when this land was colonized by Europeans, should remain sacred. It shouldn’t be encroached upon by a dollar. It is bad enough that Christmas items are up before even Halloween is over, and that Christmas music, with all of its horrible renditions of the exact same songs, appears before Thanksgiving is over. But at the very least, Thanksgiving Day itself should not be encroached upon. It should be spent with family, in the home, not out competing with other shoppers and trampling people to death (as happened at Walmart a couple years ago).

Unfortunately, there isn’t much that we can do. You can talk to managers about it, but will they listen? Leave comments on companies’ websites, but will it reach anyone in position to change? Both of those attempts are probably futile, but there is one thing we can do. Wait.

If you can, resist the urge to go in before midnight, or don’t go to a store that is open before then. Money is all that these mega-companies listen to, so withhold yours. There will still be deals, and if there aren’t any in the store, you can find similar deals online (Amazon, for one, tries its best to match or best every deal they can find from a competitor). Don’t forget about Cyber Monday, either, where regular stores’ websites feature ads as good as or better than many of their in-store deals. And you don’t even have to wait out in the cold for them, you can do it from the comfort of your home with a warm cup of coffee in your hands. That sounds like a much more reasonable deal to me.