What are your plans today? Are your shopping til you drop or do you buy nothing? Are you pounding the payment or surfing the web?
Here’s a few of my thoughts on the biggest shopping weekend and season of the year.
Da Black Friday Soapbox
It’s that time of year again. I’m dusting off my Black Friday soapbox and climbing up. I wrote a piece last year on the history of Black Friday and how it’s evolved. My sentiment hasn’t changed much this year, you can read my 2011 post, Black Friday…Hype and Consumption, here.
In addition to my earlier observations, I’d add the disturbing trend of retailers competing with one other by earlier opening times on Thanksgiving day has worsened. I don’t object to shoppers getting deals during the holidays or looking forward to sales. I do object to the continuous encroachment of Black Friday sales into Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving used to be a non-commercial holiday. It was a day employees in most occupations could expect to spend with loved ones. We aren’t expected to bear gifts for one another on Thanksgiving. Our presence, gratitude, homes and table are the only gifts we offer.
As retailers compete with other retailers and online shopping, the tendency is to outdo one another. The fear is if they don’t grab those customer dollars first, that opportunity will be lost. Big box retailers who have been questioned by mainstream media have indicated the earlier openings were prompted by customer requests. I say if no big box retailer was open on Thanksgiving evening, we’d all survive to shop another day.
The other issue I’ll touch upon is the bait and switch tactic. Many of the deals offerred that drive masses into the store seem too good to be true. That’s because these loss leaders are available in limited quantities. If you read the black Friday ads, disclosures include wording on limited quantities as well indicating there will be no rain checks. There are other sales (or perceived sales) that aren’t loss leaders and retailers are hoping to get the customers to cross their threshold with wallets open to buy these other items, not the loss leaders. The reason I object to this tactic is that it can create a mob mentality and aggression amongst shoppers. Although we haven’t had any unfortunate incidents in Hawaii (that I’m aware of), there has been injury, violence and even death in other parts of the country.
Waving the Buy Local Flag
So, what can we do? I’m not sure what the answer but I’m hoping some of the backlash we are seeing will prompt large retailers to modify their practices in a responsible way.
In 2011 I vowed to buy local for my entire list. The majority of the gifts I bought were not just sourced locally but many were also created or designed in Hawaii. The holiday season felt less stressful and more enjoyable as result. I did have a small list with no tech needs or keikis so it wasn’t difficult to do. In 2012, I may not buy 100% local but for the most part I will continue to do so. I also support Small Business Saturday, a program by American Express to support our small business owners this weekend.
If you would like to support Hawaii business this holiday season, I would like to offer MauiShopGirl as a resource:
I ran a number of buy local holiday gift guides as part of my focus which you can view here to see some of my picks. Although the objects featured were from 2011′s inventory, these posts are still relevant if you are seeking out Hawaii shops, sites and creators to check out this holiday season.
I’ve written a number of posts on local shops and artisans and have included a short list here (there’s many more so feel free to browse MauiShopGirl or contact me with a specific request):
Sophie Grace, handmade jewelry and gift items in Paia
Indigo, locally designed and fair trade sourced home textiles, accessories and gift items in Paia
Aloha Letter Press, handmade high quality letterpress cards made in Makawao by Linda Coleon.
Ginger13, handmade jewelry in Honolulu
Hue, modern home accessories in Kahului
Pualani, swimwear in Honolulu
Some other local retailers to consider:
Native Intelligence in Wailuku, a variety of objects made by local artisans with high craftsmanship that perpetuate Hawaiian designs and culture
Wings Hawaii in Paia, jewelry, clothing and bags, many are handmade or upcycled items. They are also carrying a limited edition of table ware this season.
Maui Thing in Wailuku, clothing with a conscience for the whole family. Maui Thing’s message is always one of positivity . They also support many causes and events in our community and encourage our keikis to embrace their artistic side.
My list above was not meant to be inclusive of all the wonderful local businesses that I support, it’s just a quick intro to get you started. You’ll find many more buy local features and picks throughout the holiday season.
Stay tuned next week for a peek at a wonderful gift shop in Kula and also for my minimal me giving tips.