Thursday, November 14, 2013

"You Ruined My Thanksgiving."

Fun fact: In 1993 the first year Kmart opened on Thanksgiving, I was working there as an assistant manager, my first job out of college. Due to all the outrage by employees over the decision to stay open, it was mandatory for all management to work that day. We compromised and split the day into half-shifts so no one would have to work the whole day.

There was a special "Thanksgiving day only" ad to accompany this. One of the advertised items was doormats, pictured in several styles. Business was slow that day, but about noon, an elderly man approached me on the salesfloor asking for the doormats. I took him to the aisle, and showed them to him, and he proceed to chew me out because we didn't have in stock one of the exact designs pictured. I apologized for not having that particular item and tried to suggest he chose a different style from the sale items. He then told me, "You just ruined my Thanksgiving."

Yes. Those were his exact words.

After my shift ended, I drove 2 1/2 hours to my family's Thanksgiving dinner, and spent about three hours there before driving back home so I could be at work on time for Black Friday.

Please notice, this was nearly 20 years ago.

Guess what. Nothing has changed, and now practically everyone is following suit, and Kmart is grabbing some free publicity by opening at 6 am and staying open ALL DAY (gasp.) If anyone thinks they are the least bit concerned about all the threats to boycott them, you are naïve. They are already patting themselves on the backs for their genius plan to remind people that Kmart still exists.

There have been 20 years now to "boycott," and yet nothing has stopped.


Because even though many people are lovely, and will not shop on Thanksgiving, there are still enough grouchy, selfish people out there who will. I have never forgotten that surly old man, or his rude words to me. If he's still alive, I'm sure he's not the least bit concerned about what day he shops.

And for those of us who won't shop that day? No problem. Kmart, Target, Walmart, Sears, Old Navy, Kohls, Best Buy, Macy's and JC Penny will be happy to take your money any other day from Nov 29th thru Dec 24th. Christmas is next folks, and these guys aren't backing off.

What would your shopping season look like without ANY of these stores? I doubt any of us would do that. But think about it when you're spending your money, it all goes to the same bottom line.

I liked working in retail, especially the holiday season. I thought Black Friday was a blast! Crazy, but fun.

But there's no denying the corporate greed and lack of compassion that rules these big companies overall. It's there everyday, not just on Thanksgiving. It's there when they try to skimp out of providing benefits and pay for their employees. It's there when they lowball suppliers, forcing them to cut costs and quality, so that you can't buy a blender that won't break in a year anymore. Its there when they cut people's jobs right after the holidays and squeeze just a little more work out of the lucky ones who are left. It's there when CEOs bankrupt the company with their big bonuses and are more concerned about their stockholders than about their customers.

So what's my point? I guess, just to say, try to remember your outrage for longer than just Thanksgiving day. We live in a country that supports this kind of corporate activity. If that's not what you want, it's going to take big changes, not just a commitment to stay home on Thanksgiving like you always do.