Many moons ago, the jazz-rock band Steely Dan released a song called “Black Friday.” It’s a catchy tune, but has nothing to do with the frantic annual shopping experience unleashed on Americans the day after Thanksgiving — or, at some stores, on the holiday itself.
In recent years, due to the ever-increasing push of consumerism and the continued growth of online shopping, Black Friday has actually started Thursday afternoon or evening, as corporate America attempts every which way to market their wares. This year, for example, the once top secret Black Friday deals were “leaked” within days of Halloween, and at some stores, even available to shoppers weeks before.
Thankfully, there has been a backlash against the worst of these excesses, with many coming to the rescue of the hardworking employees who were being denied the opportunity to spend the Thanksgiving holiday with loved ones, carving turkey and watching football whilst getting into mashed potato and cranberry sauce fights. Apparently, corporate America has taken notice, and it appears that sanity is starting to make some headway into the mix: a number of big chain stores have caved to the public outcry and announced that they would not be open on Thanksgiving, keeping Black Friday on Black Friday — a development we certainly support.
While we are on the topic of limits to uncaring consumerism, we also believe in thinking “outside the big box.” As is our tradition, the Town-Crier always uses this time of year to encourage our readers to shop local for the holidays, earmarking a large part of your budget for our local retailers and service businesses.
One option is to shy away from shopping on Black Friday and instead shop on Small Business Saturday (Nov. 28), a promotion aimed at calling attention to the needs of community-owned retailers. Yes, there are a number of area residents who work at the big chains, but our area mom-and-pop businesses are the lifeblood of our community. Without them, there would be fewer options, poorer service, many vacant buildings and a huge hit to our tax base. Assisting community-owned businesses helps make our area a better place to live, with better education options, better roads and better emergency services. Local businesses are also the ones who more often take ownership in the community, supporting local nonprofits, schools and sports leagues.
Everyone has their favorite local business, but be on the lookout for new ones, or perhaps ones that are new to you. We recommend searching the online member directories of the Central Palm Beach County Chamber of Commerce (www.cpbchamber.com), the Wellington Chamber of Commerce (www.wellingtonchamber.com) and the Western Business Alliance (www.thewesternbusinessalliance.com). And while you are at it, many locally owned businesses can be found advertising right here on the pages of the Town-Crier.
And when you’re out shopping, the sound you hear might be Steely Dan’s “Do It Again,” since the holiday shopping season is upon us once again, like clockwork.