Wednesday, November 23, 2011

We are turning into a country of shopping malls

I am on a different bent today. Normally I find all things medical and health wise to blog about but today that is not what is aggravating me. I mean the pouring rain doesn't help - it needs to stop by 1230 so I can go out to lunch and not have to drive in a down pour.

Today I want to blog about corporate America - not in the Occupy movement sense but in how they treat their customers. First of all, retailers think they are doing customers a 'favor' by opening stores on Thanksgiving or as soon as they can after midnight. Here in Massachusetts, employees can't work until midnight so the stores will open at 1 am. They get an hour to get the store open before the onslaught arrives. But will people really go shopping at 1 am?

I was talking to a friend the other day who for 23 years has gone shopping with her daughter on black Friday at 5am, enjoying the first rush, shopping for a few hours and then going out to breakfast. This year the fun has gone out of it. They are not going to get up to shop at 1am. Their annual 5am shopping trip will lose its luster. Its the end of an era for them. I am not sure they will shop on Friday as a result.

What about that Target employee who put up an online petition to 'Save Thanksgiving'? He has over 196,000 signagture so far. There is an unofficial poll on this morning where 84% don't want stores open on Thanksgiving. Do I hear some dissent in the masses here? Holidays are for employees too. They deserve some time with their families. Yes you can say if you don't want to work the hours, find another job. But in this economy there are not a lot of options for many people. Retailers are desperate for every dollar they can get. I'm not going to any store this weekend other than to take my 7 year old nephew book shopping for a belated birthday present. We will go to an independent store that is not in a mall. I will probably also shop on Cyber Monday to get a good deal for a coat for my husband that I have been waiting to go on sale but that will be at my convenience, not theirs.

In addition Consumer Reports has published their nice or naughty store list. This helps tell me where to shop or not to shop. The naughty ones include Verizon, Swiss Colony, Air Tran, Southwest Airlines, Sirius radio, Game Stop and American Apparel to name a few. But the nice ones include some of my favorite stores - Costco and REI. I can't find the actual CR article but at least a story about it.

Corporate America is unfortunately here to stay. However just because they try to tell us what we want and what we need, and when we should buy it, that doesn't mean we need to suck up to their whims. I won't shop in the middle of the night. I only shop when stores aren't crowded. I try to avoid the scams and to good to be true offers. I also try to buy local.

I think its time we vote with our feet. If we don't like poor customer service, tell them and stop shopping there. If we don't like the quality of their products, tell them, and stop shopping there. If they are the only store for miles around because they have forced out the competition (think Walmart and its evil practices on small town USA), and find another option. Maybe you can't go to a grocery store weekly but you can stock up monthly on the non-perishables further away and buy locally/non Walmart for the little stuff.

We also should remember money and goods aren't everything. If things are low cost, they are probably going to fall apart soon. Low prices don't mean good quality and good service. My last trip to Walmart resulted in rotten produce - it didn't matter if it was cheap in the first place if you have to throw it out and go shopping again.
Also, why do we need stuff? Its nice to give someone a gift, but what about a homemade one? For my family, they will get gift baskets of food I made and some yummy items I purchased. I have done this for several years and they are all happy. Less expense for me, I get to make cookies and eat a few on the way, and we don't amass more stuff. I really hate shopping malls and avoid them as much as I can. I also have a convenient bad back that allows me to refuse mall shopping trips by saying, I can't go shopping it makes my back hurt.

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