November 10, 2015

REI & Nordstrom Ring in the Holidays with a Mindful Approach to Black Friday.

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After the past week of constant news stories about the “War on Christmas” over mall decorations and Starbucks cups, there are two retail giants that are embracing the real holiday spirit.

In a rare move by corporate entities, Nordstrom and REI are putting their employees ahead of corporate gains this holiday season and adding a mindful spin to the biggest retail day of the year.

Not only will the Seattle based Nordstrom department store not open on Thanksgiving, forcing their employees away from their families, they will not even acknowledge Christmas until the day after Thanksgiving. No decorations will grace their stores until Black Friday, when they will open at normal business hours rather than the ungodly hours we see some shops opening at.

They displayed signs stating “Well, we just like the idea of celebrating one holiday at a time.”

Bravo Nordstrom, I applaud you.

And outdoor retailer REI received tons of consumer praise after announcing they will not open at all on Black Friday. REI, I already thought you were a great company and you have now sealed my unending loyalty with your #OptOutside push that supports your dedicated employees—something we need more of in the capitalist/corporate economy that is America.

REI stated that it will stay closed on Thanksgiving and Black Friday so that its 12,000 employees, who will still be paid that day, “Can do what they love most—be outside.”  Follow the #OptOutside movement to see photos of employees outside with friends and family instead of shopping.

Any company that honors its staff like this definitely earns my support and praise. Way to bring focus to what really matters REI!

And Nordstrom, if I ever become a department store shopper, you will have my patronage guaranteed.

In a world where we see so much focus on materialism and profits, this is a bold move by huge retail giants. In a world where we forget to slow down and enjoy the present, I commend these actions.

Every year we see it happen—earlier and earlier we walk into a shop to see the next retail holiday being crammed down our throats, even if the holiday is months away. Starting in August we see Halloween, and the moment Halloween ends Christmas is here! If you went by retail standards there would be four times of year—Valentine’s Day, Back to School, Halloween and Christmas.

According to a survey by RichRelevance, 65 percent of shoppers polled reportedly “hate or dislike” the trend of retailers opening up on Thanksgiving Day. Only 12 percent reportedly like it, according to the survey. Yet many other retailers will continue their practice of opening on Thanksgiving night at 6 p.m. and staying open all night into Black Friday?

Every year, I have at least three friends who cannot spend their Thanksgiving night with their loved ones because they have to go into work at their retail jobs. They have an early dinner and then off they go so that Americans can trample and fight their way to sales earlier and earlier on a day that was meant to be dedicated to gratitude.

How does that make any sense?

And to anyone who wants to suggest that this is their own fault for choosing those jobs, I am not even going to bother with a response to you besides this one—it must be nice.

As someone who practices mindful living in the moment, it goes against everything I practice to walk into a shop on a hot summer day to see Halloween decor. I grew up on the East Coast and Halloween is an Autumn holiday. Cool, crisp weather. Not meant to be thought about while we were still on summer recess. Yet there we are in August, and the kids are arguing over what to be on Halloween. It’s madness to me to talk about Christmas when it isn’t even November yet.

My mind just can’t compute living that far in the future.

As the LA Times stated, Black Friday has become a “window into America’s class divide, in which high earners have benefited from a booming stock market and rising home prices as many others still grapple with stagnant incomes and lingering financial anxiety.” While the conscious consumerism mindset is indeed growing, we are still very much an extravagant, excessive, consumer driven country.

In a time where this still rings true and our class divide deepens, and many people go hungry every night we need to remember what is really important—being mindful and present in each moment with our loved ones, not what we are buying each other.

Let us spend each day honoring each moment that we are blessed with, and in gratitude for those we love. I desire nothing but love this Christmas.


Relephant Favorite:

Giving Tuesday is the New Black Friday!


Author: Lindsay Carricarte

Editor: Travis May

Image: Authors own

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