Last year, Walmart, the store that will be named, but one I won’t shop at and try not to let my immediate family shop at, opened for Thanksgiving. I joined everyone in being upset by this. If I remember correctly, though, I was mostly worried about whether the employees would even get holiday/overtime pay – and not allowing unions, they could have gotten away with that, which is one of many reasons why I still believe we need unions. However, to be clear, Walmart did and does pay their Thanksgiving employees extra, which is something, anyway.
In the name of materialism, I’d just as soon that they would have stayed closed. This year, more stores are joining the fray. Lots of people are upset. A few people are tossing around Matt Walsh’s Huffington Post article about being part of the problem if we are someone who shops on Thanksgiving. Except… what exactly is the author descrying? His main point seems to be consumerism in general, that our nation is stuck on the idea that to be a good citizen, we must buy-buy-buy. Yes, this is most prevalent between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Yes, I agree with his issues about this. Yes, I agree with the many who say I don’t need to go Christmas shopping on Thanksgiving. Yes, I’d be happy if all retail stores closed on this day. And yes, this might be an overall problem in our culture as a whole.
But then he mentions feeling sorry for the poor single mother who has to work the cash register that day. I’m not saying I have no sympathy for that particular employee, but…
Will some of you go to movie after dinner – or even just before? A restaurant or a bar to watch the game? Stop for gas on the way home from grandmother’s house? Go bowling? (Sounds weird, right? This is a tradition for a family on my husband’s side!) Be thankful that the grocery store by your house stayed open all the way until 4:00pm?
Without a doubt, some of those places I mentioned employ far fewer people then the big retailers. And yes, I wish for everyone to not only have Thanksgiving off from work, but to also have it as a paid holiday.
I guess I ultimately am wondering what, exactly, it is that we are protesting. We often get muddled in our outrage and the message gets lost OR the action and consequence get lost. Privilege allows us to say “I’m not shopping on Thanksgiving,” and privilege allows us to follow through. Privilege can also make us forget about those who look forward to bonus pay by working on the holidays. I don’t ever shop at Walmart, and last year’s start to them opening on Thanksgiving did not suddenly change my mind. I don’t like how they do business, but more importantly, I don’t like how they treat their employees. Privilege allows me to make this decision, I know this. However, I’m hoping that I’m not entirely misguided in using my privilege to help share with everyone who asks (and might not ask) why I refuse to give them my business. I totally get that many people shop there because of the low prices (and may have to). I get why people work there (and may have to). I fully understand my privilege in this scenario. Better yet would be if I were to more actively campaign in favor of workers’ rights for Walmart employees. What I’m saying, though, is that however miniscule it is that Walmart doesn’t get my business, I’m trying to look at the bigger picture, and denying them any of my business at any time AND sharing with others why.
I’m not mad at retailers for opening on Thanksgiving. Maybe a little disappointed though. I’m actually rather surprised it hasn’t happened sooner. I’m not disappointed in people for wanting to shop that day. I might be disappointed if my own family members ditched our family celebration early to do so, though. It’s about focusing the message. What are we actually upset about with retailers being open on Thanksgiving?
I support one’s decision to not shop at major retailers on Thursday, but I also believe that if we are propagating this campaign, let’s be clear about our goals. Are we upset with consumerism as a whole? Then maybe the articles we share should focus on that and how we’d like to change it. Are we upset with retailers opening on the holiday? Then maybe we should boycott them for the entire holiday season, and not just Thursday, since not shopping on Thanksgiving has already been a part of our lifestyle. Tell people why you aren’t shopping at Target this year. Or Best Buy. Or wherever. If we are upset that anyone at all has to work (in a business setting) on this holiday, then we oughtn’t patronize any business on Thursday.
At the very least, whatever business we might stop in on Thanksgiving, perhaps we can remember to thank the employees who help us on a day that may or may not have them sacrificing a little something to do so.
And because I always like a little levity: