Those who aren’t fans of the over-commercialization of the holiday season likely lament what the post-Thanksgiving weekend has become.
Thanksgiving is a holiday for family and gratitude – a time to come together and appreciate what we have while enjoying a turkey leg to two with loved ones. The long weekend spanning the day itself through Sunday allows families and friends to come from all over to enjoy one another’s company.
Now, literally once the clock strikes midnight after Thursday, pandemonium ensues. Commercials for Black Friday deals, or a whole week or month of Black Friday sales, consume the days before and after Thanksgiving.
Black Friday is somewhat of an anomaly in an age where e-commerce has become a seemingly unstoppable machine. Lines form in the frigid night, full of folks looking to save hundreds of dollars on that flatscreen TV they want or get a jump on their holiday shopping. It should be noted that the late Thanksgiving this year may only make the rush worse.
Not to mention the countless videos that have gone viral on social media from throughout the country of people ripping merchandise out of one another’s hands, or stampeding into the store so they can be first to what they want. Walking through a Target or Walmart after Black Friday, it might look as though a hurricane ripped through the aisles, with merchandise misplaced or knocked over and some shelves entirely barren.
Of course, those who choose to wait for the newly popular Cyber Monday don’t have that issue. Amazon runs a week of Cyber Monday deals, and millions of customers opt to sit behind their computer and cut out the pushing and shoving to purchase what they want.
As you read this now, the Amazon app and website amount to sensory overload. There are televisions ranging from $600 to $4,000, $400 vacuums going for half as much or $70 off that Ancestry kit for which you’ve been searching. There are pages filled with items carry a green label reading, “Cyber Monday deal.” It may amount to too much even for the most avid Amazon user.
However, one day of the Thanksgiving weekend has been co-opted into a more positive experience. Rather than removing human interaction at all via Cyber Monday, or actively competing against one another on Black Friday, Small Business Saturday encourages residents all over to support their local businesses.
There are several benefits to shopping local, and they all go beyond just one day over a long weekend in November. The lines aren’t nearly as long, and a USA Today article from 2014 notes that every $68 out of $100 spent at a local business stays in the community.
While it may be nice to get $20 off a dress or shirt at a big-box store, family businesses or smaller stores can often provide handmade items or more unique finds that can help support the local economy.
These are the hidden gems of Rhode Island. Pawtuxet Village has plenty of small shops that could add a local flavor to your shopping season, or perhaps take a stroll down to Wickford. Even taking a drive down Warwick or Atwood avenues can reveal full plazas with just small businesses. Look closely, and you may find a diamond in the rough.
There’s no issue with heading to a big chain or shopping on Amazon for a few gifts, but local shops are a vital part of the fabric of our communities. In the few weeks left before Christmas, we urge shoppers to take a new look at what’s available right here in our backyard.