Buy Nothing Day

Free Radicals will be CLOSED for Thanksgiving and Black Friday


Here’s the skinny:

There are a ton of good reasons not to shop on Thanksgiving and the day after. Here are just a few:

We used to call it Buy Nothing Day, and although that particular social movement has been moved to the weekend, we still celebrate the focus of it. I am not just talking about major retailers here; we literally buy nothing on those 2 days. As for me and mine, we will NOT shop on Turkey day or the day after. At All. If we run out of milk, whiskey, or toilet paper we are shit out of luck (yep. Intended.) so we try to make sure that we have all of the necessities needed in house before Turkey Day begins.

“But, why?” you ask… “What’s the big deal, Grinch? You don’t like the holidays?”

Not particularly, but we’ll get back to that in a bit.

You can certainly Grinch out on the commercial gift giving that surrounds this season and that is worthy of a long blog post in itself. We can argue the merits of big business vs. small business vs. mom & pop vs. handmade vs. homemade vs. no gifts at all. There are a thousand shades of grey between not funding corporate Christmas and buying handmade only (but where do they get their supplies, these crafters??) But no matter where you fall on the gift giving spectrum, we can probably agree that Black Friday (and now Blacker Thursday) are commercial inventions built only to serve an excess in purchasing. I mean really, there are 363 other days of the year that you can purchase your gifties for the loved ones in your life. So maybe let’s not join the orgy of buying that is Black Friday.

There is also a little hitch in my step when I think about excess. I understand that this is a bit odd coming from a shop owner, business person, and capitalist who depends on the sales of things to pay my own rent and bills. But stick with me. I love stuff. LOVE IT. I also love stuffing my face as much as the next guy.
But I am a bit thrown off by a holiday season that has grown into so very much excess. We joke about what we can do with all of these damned leftovers when 1 out of 3 children in New Mexico are under nourished. If you choose to walk through a mall department store this season you will see tables and tables full of tiny, cheap, junk things that no one really wants; they are purchased as impulse items so that folks will have “more things to unwrap”. Maybe this year, in celebration of moderation, you could have an intimate, average sized dinner with your loved ones. And maybe just buy them one nice thing that they really wanted.

Now I certainly understand that there are plenty of folks who don’t give a rip about Thanksgiving and don’t mind working on that particular Thursday or Friday. I used to be one of them. Back when I was 18 and a family dinner meant a 10 hour commitment and a Bataan death march of politically correct small talk, I didn’t mind having to go into work. It cut my family dinner shift in half, and I was letting someone else at work off the hook by volunteering. Not to mention the grad thesis we could write on the ‘celebrating genocide’ part of the argument…

 But for me these days, it’s not a Thanksgiving issue. It’s a class issue. That’s right, buckle up… here we go. Many (not all) people who have white collar jobs have routinely enjoyed certain holidays off. Usually the big 5. It would be unheard of to ask an executive level employee to clock in on a national holiday. But for those of us in the service industry trenches, we are fully expected to be working on the holidays with a smile on our collective faces. Ever work at a porn shop on Christmas day? I have.

For generations, Thanksgiving and Christmas were 2 days that many of us in service *might* be able to have off. And every year more and more shops, stores, and restaurants are open on T-Day and X-mas. So if you find yourself in a lower income bracket, or are under-educated, you will likely find yourself working on one or both of these days. It’s not about Thanksgiving. It is about one class of people’s family time being valued more than another.

 And, although that’s just one more example of “those with the money make the rules” as consumers, WE ARE the ones with the money…

So back to my own family. We don’t shop on these days at all because we believe in voting with our dollars. As psychology has taught us: principles are a terrible predictor of behavior. Just look at congressional approval rate vs rate of incumbent reelection! We may cry and cry for change, we may all agree that Wal-Mart is a terrible soul eating corporation, but there they are…still raking in billions. Because people keep shopping there. Lots of people. It may seem hard to believe sometimes, but business really is as simple as supply and demand. If something doesn’t sell well in my shop, it goes to clearance and I don’t re-order it. Done.

If no one shopped, or bought gas, or went to goddamned McDonald’s on Thanksgiving, or Black Friday, or Christmas, they’d close on those days. It’s that simple. If no one shopped, there would be no reason to open.

To those in the trenches, I’m sorry you have to work ungoldy hours on a National Holiday. We promise not to be part of the problem.

One Response to Buy Nothing Day

  • Wonderful! I use to join the ruckus but then one day my darling daughter took a job in retail and was required to be part of sales force. She spoke of the attitudes, rudeness and greed on both sides of the counter, that of the consumer and that of the corporation. There wasn’t anything that reflected holiday spirit or joy really the reason for the season! I know that I didn’t realize how heartless it was taking people away from their families till it happened to me and I admit to that folly but learn from that folly I did. My family joins yours we will be watching family movies, eating popcorn and planning a season to be together. For after all isn’t time together the best gift in this crazy world?

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