Friday, November 16, 2012

A Case of the "Humbugs" Or: Taking Back Thanksgiving

Okay, so if you've ever lived in Minnesota for any extended period of time, you learn that we're very, very, VERY loyal to companies headquartered in our state.  Best Buy and Target stores are just about everywhere.  So now there's news that both Best Buy and Target will be opening on Thanksgiving day.  And this just made me mad.  Last year, stores were opening at midnight, and now we as a society have gone too far.  So I'm just going to say it.  I've developed a case of the humbugs!

Target's move has my trousers in a bunch for a lot of reasons.  Firstly, Target is distinctly a family oriented company.  The concept of Family should really be the fourth "F" to their "fast, fun and friendly" mantra that they shove down the throats of every new employee.  So when the corporate office tells their employees that they have to leave their families on thanksgiving day to go to work, doesn't that defeat the purpose?  Does nobody else see the irony?

This path that Target is going down flies in the face of everything they stand for.  It makes their values utterly worthless, for one thing.  It also means more retailers will try it again next year.  There's a whole "keeping up with the Joneses" mentality in business.  If one company does something different, everyone else plays along to keep up.  Without devolving into a slippery slope scenario, this sets a very dangerous precedent.

Now, I'm no expert in business management and theory.  But last year, a lot of retailers opened at Midnight on Black Friday.  The Gamestop near my house was one such retailer.  When I talked to the manager at around 7:00 AM, he had been there since 11:00 PM the night before.  They had a decent number of people who showed up at midnight, but by 2:00 AM, the store was basically dead.  Maybe a few stragglers here and there, but business didn't pick back up until 5:00, and he grumbled something about missing sleep to stand around and look intelligent.  The store had to pay for its employees to stand around, some of them, presumably, being paid at time and a half.

For as much of a hit to the profits as many doorbusters are, it's imperative that stores maximize their profits.  If two or even three employees are on the books not helping customers or ringing up sales, that's a significant hit to the bottom line at the end of the day.  For larger stores that require more people on the clock,   Fiscally, it makes no sense whatsoever.  Some stores likely take a loss, which the corporate office has to absorb.  And with Gamestop losing over $600 Million during Q3 2012, every loss hurts the bottom line even more.

So, if any of you out there reading this want to do something about it, don't go shopping on Thanksgiving day.  If too few people show up on Thanksgiving Day, and stores start reporting losses, businesses will take the hint and go back to waiting for Friday to start first.  When you're checking out, ask to talk to the store manager. Tell the store manager that you don't like this policy.  If stores get enough people coming through their doors, voicing displeasure, hopefully the corporate office will take the hint.  Tell companies they're killing family values, especially if the company endorses "family values." has a petition going to tell Target to cease this practice.  As of this writing, the petition has over 220,000 signatures.

With enough people getting involved, we can tell big corporations that this is not okay, and that Thanksgiving is not territory to be tread upon.

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