Friday, November 18, 2011

Retail Mania

 I often say I am lost in America or an alien in America. I lived overseas for 22 years with few visits to America. Most were for family funerals, so I was far too distracted to notice changes in culture. When I moved to America, I ended up in my little old RV while I figured out my future. Well, almost two years later, I am still in my little old RV, deciding it's a different odd off-the-beaten-path lifestyle that seems to suit me for the time being. 

As I began to slowly assimilate myself back into American culture, one of the first things to slap me squarely in the face is the overwhelming greed I see rampant now.  It is  just so absolutely incredible that I seem to perpetually have my jaw dropped down in shocked wonder.  I grew up in a time when Sunday openings for any businesses were extremely rare. Sunday was a day of rest and worship. Now it's the norm in all but a few tiny pockets in America for retailers to be open all day Sundays. Some places have restrictions on what can open before noon or 1pm on Sundays. For some it's local laws, for others simply local customs. But this is very rare. I remember when many Saturday places closed up by noon. If you hadn't done your shopping by noon on Saturday, too bad!

Just recently when I lived near the tiny town of Lavonia, Georgia, they had these two wonderful hardware stores that had been there for generations. One in particular was my favorite, and they had little oddball parts I needed for my repairs. It also seemed to be a social hub downtown, as there were always a handful of patrons camped out by the old wood stove, deep in conversation.  You weren't likely to walk out of there empty handed, as they seemingly had it all. I was giving another RV owner directions to this hardware store on a Saturday morning, when I said "They are old style, so get there before noon!"  He had no idea what I was talking about, so I explained they closed up at noon on Saturday and didn't open on Sunday either. He was shocked and thought me a foolish woman to perpetuate such nonsense. But it was true.  A pocket of America that still held sacred the fact that people need time off to be with their loved ones or to worship or both. 

Last year I was appalled that some of the big retailers like Walmart were forcing their employees to open up and work on Christmas Day in some areas. I thought that was horrendous, that folks couldn't spend that time with their family. Couldn't the store close for at least 24 hours without risking bankruptcy?  It's bad enough that retailers now stay open all day Christmas Eve, I remember when most places were closed by noon, with a few heavy hitters staying open until 5pm. The theory was folks could still get home in time for Christmas Eve dinner or in time to go to church or both. 

Now retailers are open all hours of the night on Christmas Eve. 

I am not sure when the term "Black Friday" came into use. I didn't even know what it meant, the first time I heard the term just a few short years ago. I finally learned it's the Friday after Thanksgiving, when stores used to trot out their Christmas selections and the official shopping season began for the upcoming holiday. 

Just this year, I was poking fun at a store employee because their store had Halloween on display in late July. I asked the clerk how many overtime hours she worked to get Halloween merchandise stocked in the nick of time. She gave me a straight face and said "Our manager said we had to move out the Halloween stuff because Christmas merchandise goes on display in 6 weeks!"

Today I read a news article, that employees were grumbling because some retail mogul idiots have decided that Black Friday starts at MIDNIGHT!  Walmart has declared it starts at 10pm on Thursday.  Such greed!  Employees around the country are being forced to report to work by midnight. Stores are promising great bargains if you show up at midnight to shop. Consumers that aren't working in retail, are grumbling that they have to forego their own Thanksgiving plans in order "camp out" in line to be one of the first to enter the store at midnight.  

Does anyone celebrate holidays with their families and friends anymore or is it all just a huge consumerism rush and crush now to be the first to buy a so-called bargain? Is it really a bargain at all?

America which was founded in part on the freedom of religion, has now stamped it in the ground firmly. You surely can't pray in school or mention God or a higher power in public places it seems. Retail greed seems to be the new God of our culture, to be worshiped and adored like never before. 

I for one have NEVER spent one dime on Black Friday and I am very proud of that. I won't be spending one penny this year either. I've always considered it appalling. I was selfish, I wanted both Thursday and Friday to spend with my loved ones, not in some stampede to hurry up and empty out my wallet. 

Sure I am on a super small budget and Black Friday is rumored to be a huge bargain day, but I just don't "get it".  Whatever junk is out there for sale, is still going to be for sale in the days and weeks to come. 

I've probably stepped on toes all around today, by bringing up what seems to me to be TOTAL MADNESS!

Even worse, I've read that many folks are so grateful to have a job and so terrified of losing it, that they feel they have absolutely no choice and no say in the matter at all.  They must forego their own holidays and family time, to feed the big hungry greedy monsters.  It seems to me, slavery is alive and well in America. 

Are people really going to camp out in parking lots on Thanksgiving day just so they can get retail induced self-perceived bargains at midnight?  Has the whole country gone crazy? 

I will boycott this Black Friday, just like I have always done. A one person protest that I refuse to take part in such greedy insanity. 
The full moon, as I saw it November 10, 2010



9 comments:

  1. It's appalling, is what it is. It's appalling that big retailers will force their minimum-wage employees into the store on a holiday, and it's appalling that we (consumers) will reward them for it by shopping their soulless sales.

    As for poor, downtrodden religion, I don't buy it for a minute. No out-loud school prayer is a tiny oasis of relief against Big Christian God™, a going concern in this country bigger than Walmart.and Target combined.

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  2. I'm staging my own personal stand against corporate greed this holiday season, and will be spending my money at locally owned shops and...gasp... finding awesome one-of-a-kind deals at second hand resale shops.

    I work too hard for my money to have it taken away from my community to line the pockets of some far-away shareholders.

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  3. Miss Mermaid... I am with you 100% on this one!

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  4. I agree with you on the absolute greed of forcing employees to cut short their Thanksgiving celebrations. I don't celebrate holidays myself, including Christmas, although I will have to get my grandkids something (usually it's just a check for their savings account).

    I agree also with the Good Luck Duck that organized religion is the first to think they can run over the rights of anyone who doesn't partake in their beliefs.

    Here is to freedom, including freedom of and from religion, that our founders so ardently believed in.

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  5. "Black Friday" orginally was the first day of the year that the retail industry got into the "black" and the rest of the year was profit.

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  6. "Black Friday" orginally was the first friday of the year that retailers got into the "black" the rest of the year was profit. It was a way of showing just how long it took for business to get profitable after all costs. Today, not much meaning except yet another reason to get you into their store.

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  7. It is called "race consciousness". I do not subscribe to it and never will.

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  8. You are so right, it is plain silly. No way I will be in any stores on black Friday!

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  9. This comment was emailed directly to me but I am posting it here:

    "I wholeheartedly agree with your blog today. Bravo for saying what many of us cannot express as eloquently as you have. I do not participate in Black Friday - I find it ridiculous. I decided many years ago that I really don't like the holiday season - I hate going to a store in October and hearing Christmas Carols. I hate Halloween in July, Thanksgiving in September and Christmas in October. I hate big retailers and I don't buy christmas gifts. I'll have to send you an e-mail I got from a cousin - it's about buying gifts for others and it's a wonderful idea. Anyway, I do appreciate your blog and I really hope you are feeling better. I wish I know of some way to miraculously relieve your pain - I hate to see folks suffering."

    From Jane

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