Black Friday: Don’t Buy Your Sweater Off the Back of the Poor

24 Nov

It happens every year. Thanksgiving draws near, the shopping advertisements begin, and I start yelling at the television. Well, this year I have access to my husband’s blog, so I get to e-yell at all of you. But bear with me, there’s a point.

  • For you to shop at 2 o’clock, someone has to be there at 1:00 to set up the store; or stay after closing the night before so all the special advertising material isn’t shown before the sale begins.
  • The stores and malls that offer shockingly “great” deals for earlybirds have to be staffed by people, people who should have lives of their own.
  • Most of those retail staff are underpaid; many try to support families on wages below poverty without benefits.
  • Before you shout “But they’ll earn great commissions!” please realize that most retailers drastically reduce commission levels (if they offer them at all) starting on the day after Thanksgiving because it’s “too easy” to earn the extra money being run off your feet by extra hoards of shoppers fighting over the last Tickle Me Harry Potter.
  • Many of those workers rely on public transportation, which doesn’t operate during the hours it takes to get to the workplace to staff these special sales. So even if they get commissions or overtime (or just extra work hours), those minimal wages get eaten up with cab fare or parking fees paid while they deprive the rest of the family of the one vehicle they own.
  • You don’t need a bargain so badly that it’s worth going to the store at 4a.m. Nobody does.
  • An extra 5% off an X-Box isn’t worth your sleep or your time with your family. Really.

So please join me in saying “NO” to abusive sales practices.

  • Shop local businesses with rational hours.
  • Stay home, save the emissions, and shop online.
  • Know the business practices of the major retailers;

Times are hard, so shop smart and save where you can. But please remember the thousands of people it takes to get that bargain ready for you, and treat them with human kindness this holiday season.

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8 Responses to “Black Friday: Don’t Buy Your Sweater Off the Back of the Poor”

  1. Joseph Weathersbee November 24, 2010 at 7:42 am #

    Well said!

  2. Michelle November 24, 2010 at 8:01 am #

    I agree! Last year, I woke up and was at Kohl’s at 4AM nothing thinking or caring about the employees. This year, I will be at the gym!

    • rhulshofschmidt November 24, 2010 at 8:19 am #

      Glad this post helped you gain some new perspective, Michelle. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Jennifer November 24, 2010 at 8:22 am #

    Most of those deals (usually all) are available online – no lines and no 5am risings! Plus, no having to ship things out!
    Most of those stores that offer door busters (Target, Wal-Mart, Best-Buy, etc) don’t pay their staff on commission.

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt November 24, 2010 at 8:32 am #

      I would strongly encourage everyone to buy locally and stimulate local economies. I love Jen’s comment, but of course if you are part of the LGBTQ community, you will be BOYCOTTING TARGET AND WALMART!

  4. Joseph Weathersbee November 24, 2010 at 9:15 am #

    I thought about this a little more. I’m a big fan of locally owned business and wanted to add that a great deal of these employees who are working in retail during this season are temporarily contracted and more than likely to be out of a job again after the coming new year and also that even when shopping online, primarily this time of year, we can’t forget about the slew of people who’ve been hired by UPS and FedEx to support their holiday season. Last year I had a friend who was really desperate for work, as so many are, and was contracted for late November through February. During his time working he was paid minimum wage (no benefits), but worked a full day, lifting and delivering packages of all weights and sizes, while the normal UPS agent, the one who is a permanent employee, drove all day. I’m thankful I’ve never had to do contracted holiday retail with its piss poor wages, no benefits, long days, hard work…all to be jobless again in January. I’m pretty confident I’ll stick to locally owned businesses this year…if I go shopping at all.

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt November 24, 2010 at 9:44 am #

      Joseph, You have turned out to be such a great human being, as I knew you would! Seeing former students working hard to make the world a better place for ALL is such a great Thanksgiving gift for me; for I am truly grateful.

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