Op-ed: Skip Black Friday and Support Small Business Saturday

Credit: http://ocbizblog.com/[/caption]

Hopefully everyone had a delicious Thanksgiving meal with friends and family. As is tradition, the holiday season kicked off this year with some turkey, followed by Black Friday, and next week’s Cyber Monday. Now with satisfied appetites and the spirit of good cheer, many will enjoy the sales, sales, and more sales available at major retail franchises and e-commerce stores. In what marks one of the busiest shopping periods for American consumers, Thanksgiving weekend is the perfect time to get started on holiday shopping. But instead of indulging in Black Friday or Cyber Monday this year, I ask that all those who are planning to shop till they drop to support Small Business Saturday.

In 2010, Small Business Saturday was created and promoted by American Express to encourage holiday shoppers to support their local brick and mortar businesses. Last year, over 100 million people patronized independently-owned small businesses. This year, American Express predicts the turn-out will be even greater and is offering free tools for small businesses to get the most out of the day, as well as tools for consumers to show their support.

It is obvious to many that we Americans have lodged ourselves in a precarious financial situation, but it is clear to far fewer that the situation we find ourselves in is both the cause and product of our unhealthy, consumer-driven culture. Black Friday is emblematic of our need to consume products and services, and the repercussions of the mob mentality many major retailers appeal to. Small Business Saturday serves as an example of the cooperative efforts communities can make in order to overcome this destructive cycle.

In 2008, a throng of Wal-mart shoppers trampled a fellow human being to death. In a frenzied rush to snag the sweetest Black Friday deals, shoppers stepped on thirty-four year old Jdimytai Damour until he died. At that moment, Black Friday not only marked one of the busiest shopping days for the American market, but also marked a tragic and despicable blemish on human history.

Consumers play a key role in the capitalistic market hinged on supply and demand. As a fellow consumer, I ask, please demand better. Rather than pumping your hard-earned money into businesses that have proved to be unconcerned with the health of their employees, patrons, and communities; spend wisely on products provided by those who can be proud of the services they offer. The goal of Small Business Saturday is to reinvigorate the economy and keep communities thriving, and the success of the day involves everyone.

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