Ever since the heavy-duty “official” Black Friday more or less came
into being in 2005 (there are allusions to it as far back as the ’60s,
and some dates in the ’90s are claiming “credit” too), retailers have
been vying with each other in ever more enticing ways to lure in more
customers than their competitors — doing whatever it will take to make
a few more centavos.
Not that there wasn’t some sort of competition for the customer’s
dollar BEFORE Black Friday, but it might have been somewhat more
civilized — and safer — to shop during more or less “normal” hours, to
buy things one intended to buy anyway at more or less “regular” sale
prices, or to wait to shop during those so-called “special” sales.
Competition, nonetheless, is a good thing. It keeps everyone on their
toes insofar as quality, price and service go. It has been said,
however, that you can usually only get two out of three: a good price
for the best quality, but the service is lousy; or great service and a
good price, but mediocre quality; or the best quality and best
service, but expect to pay dearly.
If you, as the competitor, can offer something that at least resembles
all three, it would seem to put you to the top of the list for where
more customers would be willing to shop. Even in the middle of the
night. Even on a holiday. Even at the risk of bodily harm. Even if
your quality really isn’t that great, and your service stinks, but the
price is right!
By now, we’ve probably all read various stories about the
customer-on-customer attacks to get the best Black Friday buys — even
out of the hands of those who have already claimed the item first.
Even if it meant using bodily force. Even if it might mean risking
arrest. And unfortunately, some customers apparently were not even
above pulling out a weapon to help them wrest a coveted item from the
possession of an innocent quicker-than-they-were BF’er.
Everybody likes a bargain. And apparently, “bargains” seem to have a
stronger pull than giving thanks, since some retailers have decided to
get a headstart on the Black Friday crowd and offer PRE-Black Friday
sales — on Thanksgiving Day. That’s right! But let’s not judge any of
them, since one can give thanks for anything that is important to one.
And there’s nothing like a good day of “the family that shops together
gives thanks together”…for claiming the best bargains before they’re
gone! And there’s nothing like a good day of extra profit-making from
all those customers who will be happy to know you’re open for business
when most other places are closed. Some will give thanks for the
opportunity to snare those great bargains; some will give thanks for
the extra profits they were able to generate by accommodating those
The official day of giving thanks generally has something to do with
food, as well. But not everyone has a family, or a large or small
circle of friends with whom to spend the day and share a meal. And not
everyone will even have a place to be for dinner, or food to eat.
Granted, people will still want to eat, even if it means taking their
lone self to a McBurger establishment or a pizza shack. Some places in
the fast- or sort-of-inexpensive food-service department will probably
always have to be open on holidays to accommodate those who can’t
afford a restaurant meal, or haven’t been fortunate enough to be
invited to dinner (or were “uninvited” at the last minute); or who
don’t have any food in the house for which they can especially feel
thankful. I can appreciate those who remain open to offer their fare
to those in need of some friendly, possibly fast, but definitely
affordable meals on a day on which they would prefer not to be alone.
But wait! Don’t employees at such places have families? Don’t they
want to spend the day with them? Don’t employees look forward to at
least having the holidays of Christmas Day and Thanksgiving Day off?
What’s an employee to do, should he be commanded to work on one or
both of those very days?
Well, at least one employee (a manager) said something equivalent to
“Heck no!” and refused to open on Thanksgiving Day, saying that all
the employees were looking forward to their holiday off to be with
their families. He stood his ground. He got fired. He still stood his
ground. The corporate office, however, considered it carefully and
told the franchisee that — in essence — you can’t fault anyone for
wanting the holiday off.
Although many of those franchisee locations are opening on holidays to
go for those extra sales from family shoppers or even just the
eat-out-alone diner, it’s still been up to the individual locations to
choose to open or not.
“They just said it was a competitive decision and that everyone was
open, so we will be too,” said the employee who would not open. “Why
can’t we be the company that stands up and says we care about our
employees, and let them have the day off?”
And so he took that stand — with courage and kindness — and made many
people happy, for which they were truly grateful on that day of giving
And back we come to the different ways in which one might spend the
day of giving thanks. For me personally, I’m glad we have such a
holiday in this country. Although many people never take their
blessings for granted, others don’t even recognize a blessing when it
“kisses” them on the forehead or softly brushes on by. They need to be
reminded to mull over the things in their life for which they might
feel grateful — and the less tangible the “thing,” the harder it may
be for them to see the blessing — and having an official day on which
to do that “mulling” may make it easier for them to feel what other
grateful people feel. Having a house and a car and a good TV and the
latest computer or cell phone are all things for which anyone can be
grateful, but how about noticing and appreciating all the laughter in
your life; the fact that your friend has always been there for you;
the beauty you see when you look out the window — be it pine trees or
palm trees or pear trees, the wonder of a little mountain stream, or
the majesty of the snow-capped mountain itself, miles away; and maybe
most of all, the love you once had that opened your heart, and the
love that may be in your life today.
So while I wouldn’t think of criticizing shoppers or sellers, or
bargain-hunters or buyers, I feel that considering — as people might
say — the real meaning of Thanksgiving (not the historical beginnings
of the day that may reflect deeds of which no one could be proud) is
something that anyone can work into their busy schedule. And if you
ARE that busy, maybe you could be thankful you have a job, a family,
work to do, people to help, a house to clean, someone who needs you to
stop by and say hello, or activities to fill your life.
Yes, after Thanksgiving, it’s all about the getting — but with all our
“getting,” let’s not forget to get a little wiser than we are right
Maramis Choufani is the Managing Editor of the Las Vegas Tribune. She
writes a weekly column in this newspaper. To contact Maramis, email
her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ever since the heavy-duty “official” Black Friday more or less came