By Anne T. Donahue
So much has changed in the last couple of years, that some of us no longer recognize the people we’ve become while juxtaposed atop the people we used to be. Once upon a time, I hated Black Friday shopping. I cursed the crowds and the shoppers and the necessity for capitalist madness. I’d complain about the pandemonium and watch footage of people scrambling for the Hot New Things™ and sit, stunned.
But then I realized that I needed to get over myself and accept that Black Friday is a part of our lives because this is the complicated world we live in: everything is stupid expensive, we’re at the mercy of chains and brands, and any chance to score anything at a reduced cost is one to be taken. People need to buy their shit, and it’s as simple as that. So with all of this in mind, here are my new, updated cardinal Black Friday shopping rules, written by me, a person who has begun using the phrase, “Good value.” (I hate it. I hate myself.) We’re in this together, please keep your hands on the cart.
Try to shop local
I know, I know – you hear this all the time, and it’s a wonderful idea in theory but sometimes we’re all at the mercy of a lowest-cost-possible-thanks situation. The thing is, if you’re looking for specialty gifts or putting together a care package or have time to peruse and/or know that regardless of where you buy a thing, it’s not going to fall under the jurisdiction of coupons or sales, why not help somebody else with their dream? Running a business is hard and challenging, and small shops won’t make it without our help. Think: bookstores, kitchen stores, vintage shops, and places that give a platform to independent artists/designers/etc. Every cent makes a difference! (And Amazon doesn’t need us.)
That said, if you have to shop someplace “bad,” please don’t be hard on yourself
Here’s the thing: nobody has a lot of money right now, and it’s bananas to think super-low price points aren’t helpful when everyone’s trying to juggle every expense under the sun. So remember: you’re not a bad person if you shop at one of the Evil Three (or Four or Five or Six). The pressure to deliver on Christmas morning is real, and the pressure to feed one’s self or buy the replacement for something that desperately needed replacing isn’t to be taken lightly. Everybody – including us – is trying their best. Be easy on yourself, and while you’re at it . . .
Be easy on everybody else
It’s easy to hate every other person in the mall when you yourself would like to flee from the mall. So there are two ways to combat this: a) avoid the mall and guarantee that you will not have a stress-induced meltdown there, or b) when you’re ready to explode, take a breath and remind yourself that every person around you feels exactly the same way. We live in hell, where the expectations placed on us each holiday don’t match our actual financial circumstances. We’re years into a pandemic. People have lost loved ones. The health care system in Ontario is failing. Most people who act like fools in retail environments are dealing with a lot more than they’re willing to let on in line at the checkout. Does it give them permission to be an asshole to anybody, especially an employee? Absolutely not. (Please, under no circumstances, do not berate any employees or any other people – there’s literally never a reason to do this.) But if someone nearby doesn’t return your polite head nod or cuts you off in the seasonal décor aisle, whatever. Their problem isn’t your problem, and this is a pep talk I have to give myself almost every time I buy anything from anywhere.
Think about donating any extra cash you have
What rules about Black Friday is, well, not very much. But if you’re someone who lives for the deals, why not take advantage of them and help out the members of your community who need it? You can donate the money you saved to local shelters, organizations in need of donations, or to any cause that would benefit from you sliding some cold, hard cash their way. (Or whatever you can afford! No pressure!) Or, you can check out what nearby organizations assist our unhoused neighbours, and pick up the items they’ve asked for. (A list of items is usually found on most not-profit websites.) I know Giving Tuesday exists, but why wait? Power shopping always feels better when it’s not for ourselves, anyway.
Need a little more Anne? Read more from Anne T. Donahue right here!