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It Is Black Friday And I Am Hiding In My House, Listening To Christmas Carols

November 23, 2012

Why? Because I do not work retail.

If I did I would already be fed up with Christmas cheer but as it happens I do not so I am not. Also, the songs are fun.

I make it a habit never to step foot out of my house on Black Friday unless I am forced to work so I missed all the fun time pepper spraying and riots although I’m confused as to why these things are news as they happen every fucking year.

But I am finding the new and exciting hate for major national and international chain stores to be entertaining if for no other reason than it makes clear those people who are political thinkers and those people who are politically trendy. (Full disclosure: Best Buy pays my bills. I don’t work there, but my girlfriend does.)

The hate for major national chains is a trend. Anyone who expresses random hate for a national chain store can probably be dismissed as a political thinker. Why? Because national chain stores are not something that came as a result of a vast corporate conspiracy. Neither are they something that came about as a result of abject consumer stupidity.

They happen to be a fantastic business model that consumers like. So we shop there. It’s the same reason that McDonald’s is the most brand recognized fast food chain on earth. The are the same wherever you go so a Big Mac in Tiny Town, USA is a Big Mac in London and Moscow and Sydney. It works and people keep buying.

Also, those stores offer things that some local places can’t like a steady job, an HR department, and long term advancement. Mom and Pop stores are great. Personally, I shop at mom and Pop stores as often as possible but let’s be realistic, if  Mom and Pop get in a car accident r one of them gets a serious illness, the first thing that they are going to do is cut costs by getting rid of employees and working those employees’ hours themselves. If there is an HR dispute with Mom or Pop the employee loses because Mom and Pop are both a part of the dispute and the arbiter of the solution. And you know that when Mom and Pop retire they are going to give the store over to their child, not the really amazing but unrelated talent they hired out of high school.

You know what else major national chains offer? Jobs. Big stores have a minimum number of staff that they must, by policy, have at all times. As a result, the area where they open has a minimum number of jobs that must be filled from their community. That’s a good thing, especially in an economy like this.

Please understand, I’m not ignoring the huge problems some national and international chain stores cause. Yes, Wal-Mart pays their workers slave wages and treats them horribly. But guess what? Refusing to shop there on Black Friday helps those workers in absolutely zero ways. Either don’t shop there at all or shut up. Waiting a day or three days or ten does nothing. In the end, if you give them your money you are part of the problem.

Now, I get that there are some people who don’t have a choice. Either, their financial or logistical situation prevents them from shopping at anywhere other than national or international chain stores. That is also part of the business model and not the fault of those consumers. But, you know what? I’ve been poor. Depending on your metric, I’m still poor and I don’t shop at Wal-Mart. I haven’t done so for at least 7 years. Most people can, if they are willing to expend the tiniest bit of effort, avoid the kinds of stores they so eagerly bash and then give their money to.

So maybe, the next time you hear someone whining about national chains you should mention some of these facts. If they keep whining they are probably not someone with whom you should be attempting to have a rational discussion.

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