September 18, 2014

Black Friday shopping is not a political act

Black Friday has sparked a whole new controversy about a tradition as almost as old as Thanksgiving itself – the commercialization of America.
Scroll through a Facebook newsfeed dated Nov. 28 or Nov. 29, 2012 and you’ll be met with memes and status updates bemoaning the retail-mad masses, celebrating the holiday deals and berating or appreciating the efforts to unionize big box stores.
The controversy is ridiculous.
Sometimes, a trip to Walmart (or a choice not to go to the local big box store on any given day) isn’t a political statement. But you’d never know it judging from well, the judgment screaming from social media.
Members of the Gardner News staff attended Black Friday sales events at the local big box chain on Thanksgiving night. Yes, the earlier start to Black Friday sales events from the Friday after Thanksgiving, to Thanksgiving Day itself is part of the controversy.
It’s ironic that some of the same people who refuse to visit a Hobby Lobby, due to the store’s Christian policy of closing on Sundays, are embittered that Walmart is opening its doors on Thanksgiving Day depriving people of time with their families.
No one likes to be away from their families during the holidays, but there are a multitude of jobs that require just that.
Our local police and firefighters have to work during the holiday. Convenience stores and gas stations, restaurants and radio stations also keep their doors open on holidays. At this point, it’s simply a fact of American life that some people will have to work on Thanksgiving Day.
And that’s OK.
Believe it or not, there are people who actually enjoy getting paid overtime and having an excuse to escape from their families during the holidays.
There are more than two sides to every Black Friday shopping story, and most of them don’t involve angry employees being forced to work or selfish greedy hacks who can’t wait to take a swing at their neighbor to get their hands on a cheap copy of the newest video game.
At the local store, it appeared that many of the shoppers were using the time to socialize with their friends and family at a public event. While there was certainly intensity related to getting their hands on low-priced prizes, there were no fights or even shoving matches according to the police department.
It was good, holiday cheer and socializing.
While Black Friday shopping and its crazy crowds aren’t our cup of tea, we aren’t judging those who take part. Neither should you.

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