Stores are open on Thanksgiving for a reason

Luther Dorr

I heard last week that someone from California made the trek to Minnesota to present hundreds of thousands of signatures on a petition to Target Corp. that asked for employees not to be required to work on Thanksgiving.

The lady asked Target to “take the high road and save Thanksgiving for employees like me and our families.”

What I’m hoping is that she didn’t go to a gas station that day, stop at any store for anything (including last-minute Thanksgiving items) require the services of an ambulance, a fire department or any law enforcement people, or fly anywhere to visit relatives, or listen to the radio, or watch the news on television.

I was among a group of three that drove to Elk River to watch “Lincoln” Thanksgiving night. Thank goodness those people were working, as well as the people who were sanding  Highway 169 on our icy trip home.

Maybe I’m prejudiced because I’ve worked a lot of holidays, a lot of nights after working all day, and lots and lots of weekends.

You can say that it goes with the territory back when I was an editor. And that’s somewhat true, although those 60-hour weeks got a little old after 35 years.

But it also goes with the territory when you’re working retail and your store has to try to keep up with the Joneses of their world, such as the Walmarts and Best Buys.

What’s a store manager, or company, to do when competitors are open? Be closed and fall behind?.

Like some of you probably do, I yearn for the days when stores weren’t open on Sundays. Believe it or not, you younger people, stores weren’t open on Sundays. A lot of gas stations weren’t open on Sundays. You had to think ahead and get your gas on Saturday.

Neither were grocery stores open on Sunday. But I digress …

I’m not a fan of Black Friday, or the stores that now open on Thursday night. You’ll have to wait quite a few years to catch me in one of those stores on Thanksgiving night, the early morning hours of Friday, or ANY Friday hours.

(Of course, I once said I wouldn’t be caught with a cell phone in my hands.)

But I can certainly understand that people want to shop then, especially to get in on a real good deal for something they want badly. I’d never stand in line for hours to get a good deal on a television set, even if it was a 50-incher with HD (don’t have either).

And I can certainly understand that stores are open, if nothing else because their competition is.

I’ve been hearing that those deals that are advertised aren’t always that good. Why, last year, for example, I know someone who stood in line for hours early Friday morning (Thursday night, actually) to get a television set at a big-name store, got there and there weren’t any left.

So that person went to a store in their hometown the next day and got basically the same television for basically the same price, proving that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side of the fence.

And there’s another side to the shouldn’t-be-open-on-Thanksgiving night debate.

Some of the people working then need the money. Some of them get extra pay for working those hours. Who’s to say we should ban those people from working that night or early morning?

We shouldn’t judge the person who needs money to make ends meet.

The naysayers might say, what will one night – maybe six or eight hours – do to enhance that person’s income? If you don’t know the answer to that question, then you never had to live paycheck to paycheck like many did, unable to go to a movie more than once a month, and skipping dessert because there wasn’t enough money. Maybe those people also missed out on thinking that a batch of macaroni and cheese was a feast.

Don’t get me wrong – I think it would be wonderful if the stores stayed closed on Thanksgiving. And on Sundays. And didn’t stay open 24 hours a day.

But, sadly, we’re way past that. Unless …

Unless everyone decides to stay home on a Thanksgiving night and boycott stores that are open. I mean everyone. Don’t go to a store at all. Go the next day, or maybe the day after. Say goodbye to the “shop ‘til you drop” thinking for one day a year.

You know what the chances are of that happening – something about a snowball in Hades.

We might as well get ready for Black Week, which will start the Sunday before Thanksgiving. It’s just around the corner.