Chris and I were talking about Black Friday.
"We've never shopped on Black Friday, right?" she asked.
I thought about it. I may have bought something on Black Friday. A book. A cup of coffee. Lunch. But we've never stood in line all night waiting to buy the newest electronic gadget at half price. If I had been thinking clearly in 1994, I would have stood in line all night to get Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers figures for our nine-year-old son, Kevin. As it turned out, I was scampering from store to store up until Christmas to find the figures which were flying off the store shelves as soon as they were trucked in from shops in China. We knew it was ludicrous to get manic about little pieces of colored plastic. But try looking your kid in the eye and telling them that Santa Claus failed to deliver a treasured toy. This could lead to a broken heart and lack of faith in the world which later would mean lots of therapy. Who wanted that?
Twenty years later, our kids are grown and in therapy, as are their parents. It all works out.
If only we'd gone to Black Friday....
Thanksgiving weekend shopping has become a battleground. Months ago, stores such as CostCo began advertising that they would not be open on Thanksgiving in order to give their employees a much-needed day off to spend with family.
The inference is that stores which decided to open on Thanksgiving, stores such as Wal-Mart, hated their employees and their families.
The battle lines were drawn even before Black Friday! Interesting to note that CostCo is the darling of union and liberal circles because it pays its employees well, offers benefits and still manages to thrive in a cutthroat business. Wal-Mart, on the other hand, pays such low wages that many of its employees qualify for food stamps and other social safety net services. Wal-Mart is beloved by conservatives because, well, just because.
Liberals don't shop at Wal-Mart, or at least don't admit it. Same goes for Hobby Lobby and Chick-Fil-A. My guess is that if we knew the politics of a store before we shopped there, we may never shop again.
Saturday is Small Business Saturday and is promoted by corporate giant American Express. If you can skip by the irony, you might get enthused enough to shop at your local independent businesses, if you can find any. Indie businesses are usually found in thriving downtowns nourished by the current localism mania. In the 70s and 80s, downtowns were left to fester as development thrived in the burbs and out on the peripheries, such as the formerly sleepy cowpath that became bustling Dell Range Boulevard in Cheyenne, home of Wal-Mart, Frontier Mall and many of the usual chain stores.
Shoppers in the know now look for purveyors of home-grown food and homemade arts and crafts usually located in the central parts of towns and cities. Coffee shops, craft breweries, art galleries, renovated theatres, boutique hotels and customized/ethnic restaurants make up vibrant downtowns. There are some chain stores, true, but they tend to be appropriate to downtown's quaint nature.
I may shop small on Saturday. Or I may not. What about Wal-Mart? I never rule it out. Many bargains. Great people-watching. And, well, Cheyenne has no CostCo. We are getting a second Wal-Mart. And there is a CostCo being built off I-25 in Fort Collins. But that means shopping in Colorado and paying Colorado sales taxes. This boosts the Colorado economy and fuels growth that inexorably slouches toward Cheyenne. Colorado's liberal influences will seep into Cheyenne's culture and turn us slowly blue. I'd hate to see Cheyenne get Colorado-ized, but a tilt toward liberal politics would be a welcome change.
If you must shop, shop small and locally on Saturday, or any any day.