Friday, November 25, 2011

Still Life with Robin: Black Friday and Beyond

by Peggy Robin

Love it or you hate it, you just can’t avoid the holiday shopping season. This year “Black Friday” actually started yesterday, at 9pm on Thanksgiving Day, as a number of big retailers didn't want to wait until midnight for the throngs of shoppers who were ready to pour in and fight each other for first grab at the items up for sale.

Tomorrow, Saturday, has been proclaimed “Small Business Saturday” ( with the goal of getting everyone to support their neighborhood merchants. That’s a terrific idea but even better would be to have this event continue through the weekend. That way this coming Sunday would have a designated purpose to carry us through to the next named  shopping day.

That day is, of course, Cyber Monday, the day of specials and discounts for all the online gadgets and gifts you can get. You see where I’m going with this: At this rate there could be a specially named shopping day for every single day leading up to Christmas. That would help revv up the economy. I know I can’t come up with a new name and theme for each of the twenty-six shopping days left between Cyber Monday and Christmas, but I can at least get the ball rolling. After that I’ll leave it to the imagination and creativity of the various types of sellers to come up with their own promotional shopping days. And to accommodate the anti-consumer-culture warriors among us, I'm also proposing a few named non-shopping days:

Green Tuesday: On this shopping day you pay with cash, especially when buying from small merchants, helping them to avoid the significant bite of credit card transaction fees.

Free Space Wednesday: To lure shoppers out to do their shopping in the middle of the work week in urban areas with metered parking, have the city declare free parking every Wednesday through the first week of January.

Ciderday: To get more people out in miserable weather, any day with more than a quarter inch of any sort of precipitation could be promoted with an offer of hot apple cider to all shoppers who brave the elements.

Gift Card Day: On this day everyone is urged to quit wracking their brains for the perfect gift for that hard-to-please person on their list, and just buy that person a  damn gift card already. Or to spare the person the hassle of keeping track of the balance on the gift card or spending it by a certain date, make it even simpler: Put some cash in an envelope. Gift wrap it to make it look nice, if you must. (This day can be saved until the very last minute, when you've completely run out of all other options).

Impulse Buy Day: Another last-day, or last-minute proposal -- on this day you rush out to a store that always has lots of little tchotkes by the register, and you blindly grab a few of them and hope they’ll be at least acceptable presents for anyone on your list who falls into the "I have absolutely no clue what they like" category.

Regifting Day: On this special day you shop-at-home by going through your closets and shelves looking for stuff you were given by others in years past but have never used. As long as you’re sure you’re not packing something up to give back to the same person you got it from, you can probably pull off this stunt without worry. Note: You are NOT allowed to regift any unused and soon-to-expire Groupon or other social networking online deals you bought but no longer want. That would be going too far.

Bakerday: This is the best day for the anti-consumerists among us. It’s the day you take the time to bake cakes, cookies, or any other homemade specialty that can be boxed up nicely as your gifts. This day can easily by converted to Knit/Crochet Day or any other craft day for non-bakers.

Buy-Cause Day: Another good day for anyone who’d like to take a stand against the whole idea of a holiday buying spree. Pick a cause you know the recipient supports and send in your donation. Want to include an actual gift? Then look for a charity that sends the gift recipient a token, such as a stuffed animal representing the endangered species protected by the cause you have chosen. Or you can buy a real, live animal for charity at; you select your gift from among a wide variety of animals –donkeys, goats, chicken, ducklings, even big animals like oxen (or a share in an ox) or tiny ones like honeybees—and your gift recipient receives a card saying that the animal has been delivered to a struggling farm family somewhere in the world. has very good ratings on Charity Navigator, too.

and finally:

Shop-not Day: On this day you stay home, stay off any online shopping sites, and don’t think about how many shopping days are left. Repeat as many days as is necessary to save your sanity.


I'm still some 16 days short, so feel free to propose other days in the comments section below!

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