About 12 years ago, I decided to shop on Black Friday. I got the paper, wrote out a list, decided what stores to go to. I got up at 4:30 in the morning, picked up a friend and fought for parking spaces and stood for hours in lines, surrounded by throngs of people to acquire my deals.
About 8 hours later, I had been home working on a house project and found myself needing a tool to finish… I had to run to a store, the same store I had been to in the wee hours of the morning. I drove there without incident, parked easily, went in, found the item I needed without standing in line- only to notice on my way out that the items I wanted at 5 AM were still available.
There had been no need to me to be out in the craze- and actually, I probably would have had considerably less impulse purchases if I wasn’t in a “race” to beat everyone else to all the “deals”!
If you are contemplating shopping on Black Friday, there are a few important things to consider:
- We vote with our dollars. Does it bother you that stores are opening earlier and earlier? Now many stores are opening on Thursday, so people stand in line all day on Thanksgiving to be able to be the first person in the door. This means many retail workers aren’t able to spend the day with their own family. Think that’s unfair? Don’t shop that day.
- It’s too easy to get caught up in the shopping frenzy. It’s like there is “shopping energy” running through the crowds on that day- everyone is buying, regardless of need or desire. It’s the “crowd psychology”, that sweeps the consumers along, sometimes even aggressively buying everything they can, regardless of their “list”.
- It perpetuates the myth that Christmas is “all about the gifts”. Having Christmas being about Christ, family, relationships, etc. is the ideal, we say it, we long for it- but when we participate in the shopping! Shopping! Shopping! We aren’t actually living what we believe.
- Many items are actually marked up, not down. Sure there are the “doorbusters” to get you there, but retailers know that if they can get you in the door, you will buy things. Lots of things. Retailers know that if people feel like they are getting a deal, that is all they want. So even when items are marked down, the profit is still built into the price. <source>
- Average big box stores that have these extreme deals, do not support fair trade. These stores are all about the bottom line, they’ve sourced the cheapest materials, cheapest labor and spent most of the year planning out how to get you to part with your money. Want to make sure you’re not supporting slave labor? Shop local, shop handmade, do your research.
- We have enough. In fact, the majority of us have far beyond what we need and are fighting to get rid of it. Trust me, it’s easier to be content when you avoid pinterest, don’t thumb through magazines, newspaper ads and avoid commercials on the television. Decide on gifts before you are bombarded with the advertisements you simply can’t avoid.
But it’s a bonding time, you say? I’m all about building relationships. I truly am! In fact, that’s my main motivation for being a minimalist; eliminating the excess has helped me focus on what is most important to me and lasts: relationships.
Just because you avoid the shopping insanity on Black Friday doesn’t mean you have to avoid time spent with people you love. Take the suggestion of The Minimalists:
Spend some time with the people you love this Friday: Share a meal. Find a Christmas tree. Enjoy a carriage ride. Go ice skating. Donate your time to a food bank. Dance under the bright downtown lights. Play in the snow (or in the sand). Or just relax and enjoy the holiday
shoppingseason. Simply be together, no purchase necessary.
Are you with me? How are you spending the day after Thanksgiving?