An open letter to malls, businesses, and, well…society.

You know what’s fun?
I may be biased in the sense that I’m a girl, so it may come with the territory (yes, that was a joke, and no, I’m not trying to offend the feminists).  But even for the guys out there, let’s face it: it’s fun to get new things.  Maybe it’s clothes, maybe it’s shoes, maybe it’s the latest gadget Apple came out with…I mean, in our capitalist society, we were born and raised with the idea that old is bad and new is good and we need to buy things to make us happy.  I’m not saying this is right or wrong (trust me, I’m the last person in the world qualified for entering a political debate), but if you think about it, that’s kind of the way things are.
Well, ladies and gentlemen, there comes a point when it goes too far.  And that point, my friends, is Black Friday.
But before I reveal my innermost thoughts about this “holiday that’s not really a holiday,” let me give you a little background so you know where I’m coming from.
Back in 2006, my parents became owners of a Mrs. Fields Cookies store in our local mall.  And let me tell you, that was the coolest thing ever for my 6th grade self at the time.  Free cookies whenever I wanted?  Uhh, yes please!
But it wasn’t just that.  It also became my first “real” job while in high school, as well as a second family when I started getting to know the other girls who worked there.  My mom, the dedicated woman that she is, works there every weekday (and even some weekends) and oversees the daily store happenings.  My dad, too, is very invested in the business.  He does paperwork and works at the store, even though he has a full time job.  Even my younger sister worked there for her first job.  Basically, the store became a part of the Kaisershot family’s everyday life.
So in that sense, working on holidays was a given.  For example, every Christmas Eve for the past few years, my parents have worked the closing shift.  Then, when my sister and I became old enough, we too worked the Christmas Eve closing shift with my parents.  It’s never been the ideal situation, but my parents are so compassionate that they would rather take the responsibility of working on a holiday so their employees could celebrate with their families.  As the owners and bosses, they could easily sit back and relax on Christmas Eve while others worked at the store, but this is how they wanted to run their business, and I truly admire them for it.
But then there’s Black Friday.
Black Friday is that day after Thanksgiving were the mall and retailers open early so people can wake up at the crack of dawn (still digesting their Thanksgiving turkey, no doubt) and stampede through the various stores, eagerly searching for the best deal and fighting someone for that on-sale TV or article of clothing or electronic device that they “need.”  So, being a store in the mall means Mrs. Fields is subject to the regulations as to when we open and close.  And if the mall opens at 6:00 in the morning, that means Mrs. Fields does too.  And if Mrs. Fields has to be open at 6:00 in the morning, someone has to be there at the store to open it.  And who do you think does that?
My mom, my dad, my sister, and me.
Don’t get me wrong: it can be pretty fun.  Black Friday is the first day where it’s really acceptable to immerse yourself in the Christmas spirit, and at Mrs. Fields, we go hard.  Instead of our usual black polo uniforms, we are encouraged to wear red and green shirts, as well as Santa hats and reindeer antlers.  Because there are so many people at the mall, we are constantly busy and running around, but everyone is in such good spirits with smiles on their faces despite the early hour, so it’s a good time.  So, I generally really enjoy working during this time.
This year is different.  This year, our local mall opens at 8:00 pm on Thursday, November 28.
This year, our mall opens on Thanksgiving.
When I first found this out, courtesy of my mom, I was in disbelief.  8:00 on Thanksgiving?!  Why??
According to the mall, the purpose of this early opening is to “remain competitive” with, I assume, other retailers in town.  But in my opinion, that is no excuse.  In my eyes, there are far more negative effects from this early opening than positive ones.
With an 8:00 opening time on Thanksgiving day, my family and I will have to be at the mall around 6:00 pm to begin baking cookies and getting the store ready for the mad rush of people that will descend upon the store.  But how exactly is that supposed to work out when we have Thanksgiving dinner at my aunt’s house half an hour away?
Well, it won’t work out, at least not in the way we’ve always done it.  My family will have to forfeit a Thanksgiving tradition years in the making in order to satisfy the demands set by Black Friday precedents.  Instead of spending time together as an entire family (including aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, and more), my mom, dad, sister, and I will work.  Instead of relaxing and enjoying time surrounded by good food and the people we love the most, we will be satiating the hunger of those shoppers that are voluntarily foregoing their Thanksgiving to buy things.  And instead of slowing down and actually being thankful for all the things we have, we will be musing over the fact that these shoppers couldn’t take one day, one day, to not give in to the idea that we need more and better and newer.
But this doesn’t just affect my family.  No, it affects far more than us.  It affects every single person that works in retail and their families.  For those who haven’t worked in retail, you have to understand that there are only a few days in the year where workers are generally guaranteed a day off.  These days include Christmas, Easter, and Thanksgiving.  Well, except for this year of course.
So, readers, I implore you to rethink your actions this Black Friday:
Malls and businesses: don’t feel so pressured to open earlier and earlier each year.  Shoppers won’t be angry if you don’t open at 8:00 pm on Thanksgiving.  Instead, they might actually feel relieved!  The only reason they are so eager to camp outside your doors in order to enter your store at opening time is because they feel that the product they are seeking won’t be there if they come later.  Nobody really wants to give up their Thanksgiving or wake up really early the next day if they don’t have to.  If you opened at your usual time on Friday morning, the people will still come if you have your deals and specials.  And please, just think about your employees and their families.  How can you justify taking away precious time from them on one of the few days they actually have to celebrate together?  Just because you pay them doesn’t necessarily make up for the fact that you’re taking away time from them, which is usually more valuable anyway.
And society: I am in utter shock year after year from the amount of people I see getting up at an unnatural hour or even camping outside the store hours before opening time to buy things.  Not only that, but I’m so frustrated that people would willingly give up time with their families while I, and many, many others, are forced to.  It’s just stuff.  And what’s more, it’s the same stuff you can get every single other day.  There is nothing special about this stuff just because it’s Black Friday.  Sure, perhaps it’s cheaper, but is that money that you save worth the time you lose, especially when whatever you buy will probably break or get lost or you will get tired of before too long? 
It’s Thanksgiving.  This is the one day you’re basically required to not buy things.  It’s the day you’re supposed to sit down with family and friends and just be happy with what you have and not covet more.  I beg of you, please do not give up time with your family to shop this Thanksgiving.  It really won’t be worth it.  At least wait until the next day.
After all, friends, it’s not called Black Thursday.

One thought on “An open letter to malls, businesses, and, well…society.

  1. Kasey!!! That really stinks about thanksgiving and I'm sorry you have to do that this year, but also I am really proud of you for posting this. It takes a lot of courage to write how you are being impacted so personally. Plus it isnt just for your behalf, it is for others too. If I could, Id come bake cookies with you on thanksgiving because I'm thankful for YOU! =)


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