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The Thanksgiving Debate


And so it begins…
  Around this time of year, my Facebook newsfeed floods with people disparaging retailers if they make the decision to be open on Thanksgiving.
  Personally, I believe that if a retailer has customers that want to patronize them on Thanksgiving then, by all means, they should be open.
  Listen, I know I don’t have a popular opinion, but this argument goes way beyond being money hungry or taking employees away from families. Some of these families need that money. Most employees at retailers open on Thanksgiving are there voluntarily. Because it is a holiday, that means at least time and a half pay. An extra $40 or $50 dollars may not seem like a lot to some, but I can see four or five extra toys under the tree, two or three new outfits, the better part of a gas bill, or more money towards books for the spring semester.
  Or, for some, maybe it means that they don’t spend Thanksgiving alone.
  I also don’t believe in ‘cherry picking’ when it comes to this argument.
  When you suddenly realize you don’t have enough milk for your mashed potatoes on Thanksgiving Day you don’t begrudge your local convenience store for being open. So why is it blasphemy for the employees of a ‘big box’ store to work on Thanksgiving, but ok for your local convenience store employee? Are they somehow less worthy? Is their time with family less important? No, but we choose to overlook that, because them being open is convenient for us. (Pun intended.)
  I have also never seen an argument for closing fast food restaurants, movie theaters or grocery stores. Again, their time is no more or less valuable than anyone else; we just choose to overlook them as it suits our needs for them to be open.
  In some cases, being open Thanksgiving suits the needs of shoppers. There are a lot of people who are back to work the Friday after Thanksgiving; so hitting the Black Friday sales may not be an option for them. If they can get a couple of hours in on Thanksgiving Day, which in turn make a retailer money, which in turn makes employees money, which in turn generates sales/income tax that makes our government money…you see where I’m going with this?
  So before you look unkindly on retailers that choose to open on Thanksgiving this year, take a minute to think about those who may need to work that day to provide for their families.
  Also, be wary of praising those retailers that choose to close on Thanksgiving and/or Black Friday. It is good PR for sure, but check their track records to see how they treat their employees the rest of the year.
  The CEO of REI (an outdoor retailer) recently made headlines for deciding to close stores on Black Friday and pay his employees for the day. Unfortunately, he also conducted a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) where former employees came out in droves to ‘ask’ him about how poorly employees are treated the rest of the year. Not all that glitters is gold.