with Lynne and Leslie

Target workers (not) home for the holiday: Should we boycott?

by SweetMidlife
target bag

We shop here a lot.

Leslie here!

My sister Lynne can verify that before we were legally able to vote in elections, we were taught to vote with our wallets – even if it was like a Mickey Mouse Velcro wallet with nothing in it but some weird lint that was stuck on the Velcro.

What that meant was that our parents were big on boycotting companies they thought weren’t acting in the best interest of humanity – we boycotted Nestle holdings, including Rusty Scupper, over allegations that the company was responsible for Similac deaths in Africa. When Lynne and I were in high school we boycotted Coke products, and holdings like Columbia Pictures because they had not divested in South Africa (although I admit that we caved when “La Bamba” came out. I blame Lou Diamond Phillips and his cute. I was weak.)

Those boycotts were about practical things that affected the lives of people on a continent far away, but there’s a situation happening in every American town with a Target – and a Macy’s, Kohl’s and Walmart – that affects a lot of our neighbors and their ability to spend Thanksgiving with their families – deciding to push Black Friday into Turkey Thursday.

Gobble gobble…but do it quick, y’all, because you gotta go to work.

Back in high school and college, I remember having to work on holidays at random retail, restaurant and entertainment jobs, and even as a younger reporter I had to work at least one Thanksgiving (at my current paper, even the veterans have to work at least one holiday, although I usually get to pick a non-major one that doesn’t involve family dinners.

Even though Christmas was always the holiday that I most wanted off because that’s when I traveled to see my folks, or they traveled to see me, Thanksgiving is a universal day that knows no religious bounds – most everyone in the U.S. seems to celebrate it. And the dinner is the most important part, which is why it seems cruel for so many stores to expect that their employees will miss it so they can make more money.

(It’s also disturbing to me that shoppers would cut their dinner short to go on an all-out retail assault just to get some deals, but at least they have the option of doing it as a family and their jobs don’t depend on it.)

I admit that I have never been a hardcore Black Friday shopper, and I’ve been in stores that day more as a reporter than for personal retail use. It’s crowded, and people seem justified in shoving, and most deals don’t seem worth not showing up Saturday, or online.

Thanksgiving used to be the holiday I hosted at my home in York, Pa., and now it’s the day that I watch the Macy’s parade and then the dog show on NBC over the phone with my sister and go “Ooh, I want that dog,” before we go eat some pie. My husband and I went to Wal-Mart last Thanksgiving for about 15 minutes because I needed some stuff I forgot for the macaroni and cheese I was making, and because there was a game for his nephews’ Hanukkah present that was on sale that day.

We didn’t linger, but we walked by a bunch of items in crates that were covered in plastic in the aisles, that were on crazy sale but not available till the evening. And I got sad, because even though this store is open 24/7 anyway, I knew that right then there were workers at home making a dinner they couldn’t eat with their families so that people could come back and save money on a Shiny-Whatever-That-Was.

I don’t want to sound like an obtuse person of privilege, however, who doesn’t recognize that everyone doesn’t have the option not to work holidays, and that stores like Target are paying their employees time and a half to work Thanksgiving, and that this could be a great opportunity for employees to make extra money. I appreciate that, and I don’t begrudge those workers for wanting it. They deserve double time. I just wish it wasn’t necessary. I wish that stores didn’t have to feel the need to do this to have to compete. I wish that we could hold something sacred and, I dunno, just offer better deals on Friday.

So I am not saying that I am targeting Target (ha ha) or any of these other stores for boycott. I am not sure how to make my voice heard, other than to not go to them on Thanksgiving. I’ll make sure I do all my food shopping on Wednesday.

7 Responses to “Target workers (not) home for the holiday: Should we boycott?”

  1. sam@madebysam.com' Brother Sam says:

    You realize that the fact that you’re watching live TV sorta undercuts the point, right? That said, I have taken a fairly hard line that if we don’t have something on Thanksgiving, we’ll have to do without it. Although, there is a local grocery store that is open until noon on Thanksgiving for all the stuff you forget. A friend worked there for years, and said that they gave any employee who worked Thanksgiving a free turkey dinner to take home!

  2. I think I’m ambivalent. Many of us have to pay our dues. I’ve done it…worked retail. UGH. I don’t miss that life. We live in a capitalistic nation and it makes us tick. Right or wrong, I can’t really decide that for other people. I don’t shop Thanksgiving/Black Friday, but it’s not because of a boycott (and yes, I do boycotts, i.e. Chik fil A). I just have no reason nor do I care to deal with the masses.

    You bring up good questions – but what is sacred to some isn’t to others. It’s all relative.

  3. lesliegraystreeter@gmail.com' Leslie says:

    Good points, both of you. We do like in a capitalistic nation, but we always have, you know? We just weren’t a nation that expected people to miss holiday dinner so the store could make more money. I appreciate that everyone holds different things sacred and that some people would be thrilled to work on a holiday if they could earn extra money. But some wouldn’t and it’s the reason behind it – we get a lot of your money all year round but really want it today, because it’s got a catchy name and everything – that troubles me.
    And Sam…Ask your wife about the Thanksgiving where I left the cheese for her mac and cheese in the car, ruining it, and had to go buy several Lunchables at the gas station to get her cheese because nothing else was open.

  4. lesliegraystreeter@gmail.com' Leslie says:

    And Sam…I get what you mean about live TV. But news is somewhat essential (parades are not, but the stars smiling on the floats and the Broadway performers dancing in the cold are getting paid well to do so, because it is a big promotional deal to promote themselves and their work. Bobby over at Target? He’s there because he’s making money for Target. To paraphrase the David Ruffin character in “The Temptations” mini-series, ain’t nobody coming to see you, Bobby.

  5. I get what you are saying about for some of the workers it is extra money for them because they get paid so much extra for coming in on the holiday, but I don’t think any store should force people to come in and work on the holiday if they don’t want to. For me personally I will NEVER do any shopping on Thanksgiving because for me that is a day to spend with family and honestly unless you are giving me all the gifts on my Christmas shopping list for free, you won’t catch me out doing any shopping on a day that to me means spending time with family. I just hate that Black Friday shopping is no longer just a “Black Friday” thing… before we know it will be Black Wednesday shopping and Thanksgiving will get totally lost!

  6. me@me.com' me says:

    It seems everything has become only about the money. It is not a sustainable future and i wonder how long it will last.

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