HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – When the buzz of turkey carvers silence and the unmistakable sounds of canned cranberry sauce sloshing from aluminum have hushed — a new cacophony emerges right on cue every holiday season.
The whirring of blowout coupons as they’re unsurreptitiously snipped from sale circulars, the building, boding crescendo of clamoring crowds and overnight campers — the chaos of unbridled, unabashed American consumerism — music to the ears of some, a symphony of eye-rolling for others.
For all you dads, husbands, boyfriends and grandpas out there perpetuating the stereotype of dragging heels in protest on the way to the mall every fourth Friday in November, it’s confession time; I’m right there with you.
For at least the past six years as a local news reporter I have braved the beacons of bargain-hunting from which a silent siren’s song softly beckons, ‘come buy, come buy, come buy.’
If you think being chained to the hem of your credit card-wielding significant other is about as good as a poke in the eye, please know, there is nothing worse than standing in the middle of all that Black Friday hullabaloo while systematically sticking a camera and microphone in the frothing faces of zombie-like deal seekers, trying to convince them it’s worth two minutes to stop and share their shopping experience with a trembling reporter.
Please excuse my candor and grammar when I tell you, ‘it ain’t fun.’
You now know where I stand on Black Friday. But this year, I wondered how many people would tell me what they really thought about one of the ‘biggest shopping days of the year’ — certainly, the most crowded.
How many would be willing to admit their undying disdain for everything Black Friday? What about you? Would you go so far to avoid the parking nightmares, noisy mobs and unfettered spending by enthusiastically saying, ‘let’s call the whole thing off?’
Would you go so far to protest Black Friday that you’d instead participate in ‘Buy Nothing’ Day? Yeah, we checked — it’s a thing.
Buy Nothing Day is an international day of protest against consumerism. In North America the day of protest is held on the Friday after U.S. Thanksgiving, aka, Black Friday. The first Buy Nothing Day was actually organized in Canada in September 1992 as ‘a day for society to examine the issue of over-consumption.’
#OccupyXmas, if you will.
Aside from the obvious, Buy Nothing Day activities include credit card cut-ups, zombie walks and ‘whirl-marts’ where, for example, you and nine of your closest friends silently drive shopping carts around in a long, inexplicable conga line without ever actually buying anything.
In 2000 advertisements like Adbusters ‘American Piggy’ promoting Buy Nothing Day were denied airtime by almost all major television networks. But soon, campaigns started appearing in the U.S. and U.K. and participation now includes more than 65 nations.
I found, the people already developing those battle plans for early bird specials or erecting tents to proudly post outside their favorite electronics stores were the very ones who wouldn’t admit it — on camera, at least.
But I found several people who seem like a friendly protest against no-holds-barred spending on Black Friday would be right up their alley.
“I don’t have any plans on Black Friday,” said father of two, Ricky Poff. “I plan on just staying at the house and letting all those people have their madness; I don’t participate in that stuff at all.”
“Well, I’m glad there is an opportunity for people to do that if they like to do it,” high school Spanish teacher Debbie Wiggins said of Black Friday shopping sprees. “I personally don’t do it,” Wiggins announced emphatically.
Whether you think protesting Black Friday is un-American and anti-capitalist, or if you’d be willing to give it a go, you have to admit the obligatory draw becomes more difficult to resist each year as sale campaigns begin earlier and earlier. These days, after all, Black Friday starts on Tuesday in some cases, not Friday.
“I like Thanksgiving,” says Wiggins, “I don’t worry about Christmas until after Thanksgiving.”
“Just another day,” laughed husband and father of four Tyrone Miller when asked about his thoughts on Black Friday. “You know, I like to save money so I wouldn’t go out on Black Friday and buy anything, anyway.”
And that whole saving money thing — obviously another point of contention. Many argue you could actually save more buying far earlier in the year and that we’re all just pawns in some elaborate marketing ploy. But at least for those willing to candidly discuss their Black Friday sentiments with me — no duping or eye-covering wool in sight.
“It’s only a deal if you’re buying something that you would buy anyway,” reminds Wiggins. “If they lure you into the store to buy one thing and you buy 20 that you hadn’t planned on buying, it’s not a deal.”
“I think everybody should say, ‘you know what — to heck with y’all,’ and just stay at the house and enjoy your families,” concluded Ricky Poff.
Now, who can argue with that?
Here’s hoping you find exactly what you’re looking for this Black Friday — or, nothing at all.