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Vince Vitrano: Not For Broadcast

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We get the society we deserve.

I largely subscribe the above notion, and it comes to mind as we debate the encroachment of Black Friday on Thanksgiving. While I recognize some very reasoned thoughts to the contrary, I pretty much come down on the side of the retailers.

Let me illustrate the opposing point’s strengths, which I believe are twofold. First, with retailers pushing their hours earlier and earlier, and the media fueling the hype and frenzy, deal seekers have no choice but to head out earlier than perhaps they’d like.

I think there’s something there. It was one thing to get up at 6AM after spending the day with family in reflection for all that you’re thankful. To now feel like you’ve got to be heading out the door Thanksgiving night, just to get the deals you’d hoped for may be disappointing for some. I hear you! Can’t we just have one full day where stores and closed?

Another strong argument against these earlier openings is that the CEO’s making those decisions aren’t heading into work Thanksgiving night, but their employees are. I work in a career where “we’re open” on holidays, so I’ve certainly missed my share of family time due to that. Were it up to me, we’d just air the video of a fireplace on a loop (when I worked in Green Bay there was seriously a station that did that on Christmas) and we’d close for the holidays. The problem is… it’s not up to me, nor to those other employees in all those other businesses who surly would rather have other plans on Thanksgiving.

Now let’s work our way back.

Not up to the employees, no, but particularly of late it seems it’s better to have any job these days no matter when they tell you to work. I ran into Speedway last night to pick up some milk, and the guy at the counter told me he didn’t mind working the holiday… he was making $17 an hour that day.

I guess that kind of destroyed any hope for that “but what about the employees” argument for me. You want Thanksgiving off… quit. There are only about 20 Million Americans right now who’d love to have a job paying 17 bucks an hour.

I’m in that boat too folks. If I don’t like working Thanksgiving (which you’ll note I did, despite asking for the day off) I can march right into my boss’ office and tell him all about it. He’d have that anchor chair filled in 2 seconds flat, with someone who volunteers to work Christmas and New Year’s too!

So how about us now being compelled by Big Business and the media to do that which we’re not otherwise inclined to? I was thinking about this last night. My wife’s not a door-buster shopper, but if she’d wanted to, we were done and home with our Thanksgiving celebrations by 5PM. She certainly could have made a late night run to someplace open at 10PM, been home by midnight, and been no worse for the wear without any encroachment on our holiday plans. Now, personally, I would think that’s nuts, but that’s her business.

Anchoring the news this morning, it was clear; the retailers who opened late last night were rewarded with full stores. The folks we interviewed said they got great deals, and enjoyed the option of shopping at that hour.

We complain all the time that companies don’t listen to us, or care about their customers. Seems to me like these retailers gave customers what they were asking for. If nobody showed up at 10PM last night, and they lost a ton of money paying staff to work the holiday, this would have been the last year for all that.

All that said… you won’t find my sorry butt out there! The older I get the list of things for which I’m willing to wait in a line longer than 7 seconds getting considerably smaller. I won’t be out there with you folks… but I’ll defend your consumer right to be there.

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