Occupy Black Friday!

22 Nov

As we witness Occupy Movements across the country being shut down and the media vilifying the movement, as “it is cutting into Christmas revenues” (we all know how poor profits make the baby Jesus weep), the constant advertising and promotion for us to shop on Black Friday is enough to make me spit up!

Workers are being exploited like never before.  Walmarts around the country will be open 24 hours.  We are being encouraged to start consuming/shopping as early as 2:00 am.

  • 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.

11 Responses to “Occupy Black Friday!”

  1. Moka King November 22, 2011 at 6:54 am #

    I so agree. As a former retail manager I know about those crazy hours, falling alseep at 4pm on Thanksgiving being unable to enjoy the holiday with friends and family. No one knows what the retail side of things until you worked just 1 black Friday. Its a grossome 12 to 18 hr day of people pushing and shoving to not get a really good bargin. The best bargins are not always on black Friday. But those die hard shoppers need to consider the shopping on line aspect of things and not make the day of a sales associate a living hell. I agree for once with one of the Occupay Movements and give this my full support

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt November 22, 2011 at 6:57 am #

      Moka, it is wonderful to hear the voice of someone else that worked retail and how exploitive it is. I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving this year!

  2. webwordwarrior November 22, 2011 at 7:05 am #

    Great post, Michael, and wonderful points. The creation of a de facto national holiday which celebrates exploitation and gross consumerism is horrific. (“Occupy Black Friday” hee hee!) Another great antidote for those who do want to shop is Small Business Saturday sponsored by, of all companies, American Express. Support local businesses, avoid the crush at the big boxes, and get a credit from AmEx. A nice gesture from a big corporation.

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt November 22, 2011 at 7:44 am #

      I love Small Business Saturday! Thank you for the link. Nice to learn that AmEx is doing something good. Thanks, Lex.

    • Katherine McGuiness November 22, 2011 at 10:07 am #

      I sort of can’t get over AmEx sponsoring small business friday, when they charge retailers such a high percentage!!

      • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt November 22, 2011 at 10:10 am #

        Yes, I know. I think all the more reason I’m impressed by their stand here. They also score quite high/well with HRC. Thanks for the comment Katherine 🙂

  3. Rachel A. Hanson November 22, 2011 at 8:16 am #

    Having worked in retail during Black Friday before, I know just how horrific it can be to work during that day. Thank you for the reminder that just because the deals are great doesn’t mean that you can treat people like less than they are.

    As a side note, many retail operations (you mention Wal Mart) don’t offer their employees commission at all! So if you’re shopping at a small clothing boutique the employees may make commission. But the bulk of stores that offer “fantastic” deals on Black Friday only pay their employees an hourly wage.

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt November 22, 2011 at 9:37 am #

      Rachel, great comment. Yes, we need to be mindful of the impact of our consumerism. Candidly, the whole notion of “Black Friday” disgust me, but that is just me.

  4. Jay November 22, 2011 at 4:30 pm #

    It would be helpful to educate readers of TSM about another dubious holiday tradition. Are those ubiquitous bell-ringers for the Salvation Army really deserving of your hard-earned pocket change?

    As the following should make clear, there are good reasons to politely decline to support the Salvation Army and select another, more worthy charity, to support this holiday season:


    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt November 22, 2011 at 5:48 pm #

      You beat me to it! I was going to do a story specifically on the Bells of Salvation Army of KKKristians. Thanks for including the link.

      • Jay November 23, 2011 at 2:48 am #

        While we’re on the topic of suggested stories, I found this one just appalling:


        I know your blog’s focus is primarily on domestic injustices, but the violations of women’s rights in Afghanistan can be so egregious that they demand the condemnation of all people of good will.

        To be serving a sentence of a dozen years for the crime of being a rape victim, and to face the likely prospect of death by stoning from your own family upon release, all while raising in prison the child that resulted from that rape and knowing that the only solution to all this is to marry your rapist…The mind reels.

        Who needs Satan? Men are perfectly capable of crafting hells on earth that are every bit as perverse and cruel as anything Dante imagined. That such stuff is dubbed justice, and was paid for with American blood and treasure, is the ultimate black joke: one might even call it a Divine Comedy.

        I never realized Dante was such a cynic, but the title of his great poem really does reflect the reality: if God exists he is either impotent or a sadist. What could be more divinely comical?

        Apologies for the grim musings on the eve of Thanksgiving, but there’s something about this young Afghan woman’s story that bothers me deeply. Thanks for allowing me to rant.

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