Putting brakes on Black Friday

  • Blog Post by: Kara McGuire
  • November 22, 2011 - 12:54 PM



If Buy Nothing Day is going to take off, you'd think this would be the year. A growing number of big box stores are opening at midnight on Black Friday and the reaction probably wasn't what the retailers were expecting.  Employees and consumers are grumbling about how retailers are encroaching on the Thanksgiving holiday.

Just yesterday, a Target employee lugged three shopping bags filled with the signatures of 190,000 people to the Minneapolis-based retailer's headquarters, protesting a midnight Black Friday opening.

But consumers don't have to participate. That's the idea behind Buy Nothing Day, started by the Canadian non-profit, anti-consumerism magazine Adbusters, which is also involved in the Occupy Wall Street movement. In its 20th year, Buy Nothing Day urges consumers not to spend a penny on Black Friday in protest of the hyper-consumerism that surrounds this season. This year, in celebration of the 20th anniversary, the organizers urge consumers to get hard-core and consider a Buy Nothing Christmas:


With catastrophic climate change looming, we the rich one billion people on the planet have to consume less! And if that's too extreme for grandma and the kids, try for a Buy Less Christmas. And maybe a buy local, buy fairer, buy indie Christmas. Whatever you decide, 'tis the season to reclaim our year-end celebrations and make them our own again.

There's even a Zen Santa "gift exemption" card you can print out.

I have to be honest. I wrote a column about how I'm going to try to shop local this holiday even if I spend more money. But it's not been as easy as I thought it would be. My young kids have lists with a half-dozen items each - mostly  toys that are heavily marketed or made in another country and aren't for sale in independent shops.

I can imagine the comments now - I'm the parent and I can decide how we celebrate the holidays. But c'mon fellow moms and dads, you know it's not quite that simple.

Maybe you're like me, and Buy Nothing Christmas is too hard core for you. There are movements for everyone. You can take the pledge at the Center for a New American Dream to simplify the holidays. has started a Facebook driven Respect the Bird campaign.

Some churches are asking people to take pause. In its fourth year, Unity Church - Unitarian in St. Paul is planning "Black Friday at church" an event that "offers an opportunity to launch the Advent and Christmas season with spiritual renewal, fellowship, and good cheer, instead of habitual consumerism. "

What will you do on Black Friday? Will you congregate with other deal-seekers outside of a Best Buy or Target? Or do you plan to sleep in, eat pie for breakfast, and keep your wallet tucked away?


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