Val Valley Voices: Escape from Black Friday
Vail, CO, Colorado
This Thanksgiving, be grateful you’re not a sales associate.
Two years ago, I was working at Macy’s in New York City on Black Friday. The store opened at 5 a.m., which seems like sleeping in compared to this year’s 12 a.m. wake-up call.
At 3:30 in the morning I dragged myself out of bed and onto the bus, feeling fat like Santa from my Thanksgiving meal. In the city that never sleeps, one is never alone on public transportation, even in the wee hours. But I was surprised at how full the B3 bus was. Where were these people going at 4 in the morning? Did they have to wake up this early every day?
When I hopped off at my stop I realized we were all headed in the same direction: Macy’s.
No longer content with sunrise sales, retailers this year are turning Black Friday into what some are calling “Brown Thursday,” rolling back those prices as soon as the clock strikes 12. Is this to accommodate us night owls? Is there new research suggesting that people buy more in the evening? Or is it because the majority or retail managers can’t stand their relatives and are desperately searching for a way to escape a forceful second serving of Aunt Mable’s not-so-scrumptious pumpkin pie?
Whatever the reason, it’s clear this year’s shopping season will be no different than our gift-hungry past.
I could start Occupy Walmart, but as the country’s biggest single employer, most people are probably occupying — either working or shopping at — the superstore giant right now.
I could suggest a return to “homemade gifts” and “spending quality time together,” but it’s kind of hard to make an iPhone out of one’s used Motorola. No matter how many times you try gluing a digital camera, an iPod, and a laptop together, it’s just not the same. Gorilla Glue only goes so far, my crafty friends.
I could mention religion, but I’ll leave that to the GOP.
How do we stop the madness? Will Brown Thursday become Grey Wednesday? Will we ever return to a time when the holidays weren’t synonymous with spending? Will anyone give those poor retail employees, who often make minimum wage while racking up massive sales for their employers, a break? True story: The employee with the highest yearly sales total at Macy’s received, get this, a small gold trophy. Maybe when melted down, Cash for Gold will give that Employee of the Year a few bucks for it.
In America, there is no shame in finding a good deal. Most of us only have so much to spend on gifts for family and friends, and we want to make it count. But why so early?
Does the value of an iPad or HD TV magically change in a matter of hours? Buying online is another option, but it’s hard to know if that sweater adorned with images of Santa Claus hugging reindeer in the snow is really flattering unless you try it on. Let’s not forget the one thing everyone needs during the holidays that’s never on sale: booze.
This Black Friday, I’m going to sleep in and be grateful for one thing: that I don’t work at Macy’s anymore. Now, if only I could find a job for the season.
Rosanna Turner is a freelance writer based in Vail. Send comments about this story to email@example.com