I’m trying to think back to when I first heard the term Black Friday. I think it might not have been until after High School, as the small town where I grew up doesn’t really have much for big box stores.
The first use of the phrase goes back to 1869 and relates to falling gold prices and a stock market crash, rather than anything to do with shopping. And it also occurred in September.
The term later picked up “popularity” with the Philadelphia police department as they used it to describe the dread they felt for managing traffic on that first day Christmas shopping started. Overtime, retailers wanted to make the term be taken in a more positive light, and started spinning it so that the “black” referred to the time of year when stores finally turn a profit.
Black Friday sales started out as an American thing… over time Canadians found out about it and would head south of the Border to get great deals. Gradually, Canadian businesses had to offer those same sales so they wouldn’t lose business to the States.
Does this make me a little frustrated?
You bet your sweet a$$ it does!
In reading up on the topic, I’ve also found that there is an anti-Black Friday movement called “buy nothing day”. I hadn’t even heard about it until today, but it echoes my sentiments very much- it’s a protest against consumerism and encourages people to “ take a step back and look at ourselves, our behavior”. It was founded in 1992 by a Vancouver-based Artist, and now takes place on the very same day as Black Friday. Maybe now that I actually know about it I can plan something for next year ;)
There are other factors contributing to my decision not to participate in Black Friday. Besides just being annoyed and a little disgusted by it personally, it more recently occurred to me that a lot of small businesses can’t afford to offer the ridiculous kinds of deals you see on Black Friday. In discussions with other North American low waste business owners, a large consensus was that if supporting small local businesses is important to you, then they shouldn’t have to try to reel you in with incredible sales and deals just to get that support. These deals come at a cost to the businesses and consumers should realize that.
So do I want people buying a bunch of my products just because they are a good deal this weekend.? Can’t say that I do. Do I have any good deals going on this weekend? Sure don’t ! Do I want people to buy things they truly need, and will use in the foreseeable future ? Absolutely!
Moral of the Story: Black Friday and Everything it stands for just doesn’t sit right with me, nor does it jive with the concepts behind my zero waste business, so I won’t be participating. That’s all there is to it.