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By Sarah Corbin
I'm not shy about admitting to folks that big box keeps our family afloat. My husband is a store manager for Tiger Direct currently. He's really happy there. I have some good friends in big box retail still - and they are really happy.
In the past, he or myself have worked for Target, Kmart, Sears, Best Buy, Office Max. Jim even started his retail management career working his first few months out of college for Radio Shack.
Big retail has some pretty crazy hours. When I worked in higher ed too, I worked some pretty crazy hours (3am fire alarm wake ups). And when we had our wee little bakery, we worked some really crazy hours. At that point we might have gotten Thanksgiving Day off, but mostly we slept after working 36 hours almost straight through to make enough dinner rolls for other folks' relaxing days.
This year, a lot of the big boxes are opening all day Thanksgiving Day. Some, are opening tonight and working into Black Friday. Tiger Direct, we are lucky this year, decided to remain closed. But it's 9:17 at night on Thanksgiving and Jim is fast asleep. He's been asleep taking a nap since 7 so that he can be at work at 2am to be ready for his 5am door opening.
Last year - Jim was at Sears, they opened at 8pm on Thanksgiving night - he was at work by 5pm Thanksgiving Day and stayed there all Black Friday, taking a nap on the couch in his office at one point.
It wasn't awful.
But I'm not a supporter of opening on Thanksgiving. I make active decisions about where to not shop because of places that are opening after years of saying that employees come first. Last year Target's decision offended me most because they pretend to be pro-employee. I didn't shop there for months.
I'm starting to get annoyed with folks blaming it all on Walmart. It's not just Walmart, and frankly, they didn't start the trend. Kmart has quietly been open on Thanksgiving for YEARS. 7 years ago or more when we had the bakery we would be driving up to my parents and pass a Kmart with a packed parking lot. And that was without much hype. We knew, it was only a matter of time, before other bigger boxes needed to swallow up some of that market share.
When I worked for Target , when the economy was great, we had our overnight crew in at their regular time on Thanksgiving night to work freight for Black Friday. I think they got in at 8pm Thanksgiving night. But maybe it didn't bother us so much then, overnight crews typically get "shafted" anyway.
And when Kohls was in it's hey day - they would schedule around the clock sales ALL THE TIME. It seems like they would decide the week before and open at 2am, randomly, throughout the holiday season. No one complained about Kohls. No one, at that point, cared about employees in retail.
This year money is pretty tight in the Corbin house. Some of those Black Friday, Grey Thanksgiving deals would help ease the financial burden a little. It feels like emotional manipulation, and I'm not buying. In fact, maybe that's the biggest reason I'm not buying.
It's not because I think the employees get a raw deal. Retail employees have it tight around the holidays no matter what.
I'm not buying because Michael's is telling me the only day to get 60% off holiday wrap is Thanksgiving from 6pm-10pm. That's it. They won't have that sale tomorrow. Ok. I won't buy it tomorrow or ever then. That's it.
My daughter, who still has a close pen pal relationship with Santa in 4th grade - though she's suspicious, has asked for a stuffed animal that we saw at Aldi. Jack wanted a Switch and Go Dino by Vtech. I think Santa can shop for those on Amazon. I think he just might have done some cyber shopping today while the apple pie was baking in the oven.
Amazon is a whole other beast isn't it?
And earlier today, when we realized NO ONE had gotten the M&M markers for Thanksgiving Jingo, Jim ran across the street to Walgreens. They had M&M's - they have everything.
And they are even open Christmas Day alongside Starbucks and McDonalds. No one is complaining (really) about that either.