Sunday, November 27, 2005

‘Black Friday’ bleak for workers forced to be there SO early

Nothing says Christmas like thousands, no make that MILLIONS of shoppers, huddled against glass doors - crushing one another to near death - in order to get inside some store at 5, 6 or 7 a.m. on the Friday after Thanksgiving to buy that bargain-priced off-brand DVD player, or “Leak My Undercover Job” Elmo.
As one who hates the process of shopping (I enjoy buying things, but I abhor the languid exercise of going from store to store to get Lord knows what), I avoid “Black Friday” as much as possible. Economists use that term to describe the day after Thanksgiving as the moment retailers find their bottom lines move into the black – or revenue positive territory.
I hide under blanket and recipes for turkey leftovers, choosing to watch Texas slide past Texas A&M in football or any movie on cable TV. Anything but facing those crowds.
But for all those stupid enough to stand out in the cold and pitch black darkness for hours, the employees of all those stores were forced to awaken far earlier than usual, drive half asleep and find parking spaces in lots that filled faster than wine glasses at a special Merlot tasting. The mayhem starts earlier and earlier and earlier … to the point of absurdity.
No one thinks about those people, but I do. And it’s not fair! I think that sentiment stands on its own two feet.
So I got curious and did a quick survey of when the major retailers were to open on Black Friday.
Here is a rundown of the door opening times last Friday, based on every major advertising insert in the Thursday, Nov. 24 edition of the Dallas Morning News.
5 a.m. – Fry’s Electronics, Wal-Mart, Kohl’s, Best Buy, Sam’s Club, JC Penney.
5:30 a.m. – Sports Authority, Dick’s Sporting Goods
6 a.m. – Sears, Micro Center, Conn’s, JoAnn, CVS Pharmacy, Radio Shack, Office Depot, Bass Pro Shops, Target, Cabela’s, Linen ‘n Things, Michael’s, Macy’s, Toys R Us, Staples, Home Depot, Foley’s.
7 a.m. – Ulta, Academy, Office Max, Dillards, Mardel, Old Navy, Greta Indoors, Game Stop.
8 a.m. – SteinMart, Car Toys, Elliott’s Hardware
9 a.m. – Walgreen’s
11:59 p.m. (Thursday) – CompUSA (a 24-hour sale)
Just who is the world needs to be at a CompUSA at 12:25 a.m. to buy ANYTHING???
Open all day Thursday – Big Lots, Kmart.
Thank goodness Kmart has left the Texas market because it should be run out of town because of that kind of business practice. No one should have to work on Thanksgiving (to entice people to SHOP) except at essential public safety jobs, restaurants (if they choose to open for special Thanksgiving Day meals) or the odd convenience store where someone needs more chips.
But a place like Big Lots should be ashamed of itself, to promote itself as open on Thanksgiving simply to get people to buy their discontinued junk. The increasing attraction of the Internet stems from the discounts and the absence of the mob scenes at stores. There are no lines, no rude clerks and no nasty people pushing and shoving and being just plain obnoxious.
People should make it a rule never to darken the halls of stores with such practices at any time of the year. And like anything else in the American business climate, if people want change to happen, they need to do it by staying away from that store, or product, in droves. It will continue until retailers deem it unprofitable to do so.
And perhaps our lives will return to some sort of normalcy.


dan said...

Hi CHuck

Saw your comment on the BLOOMS blog. We gotta talk. EMail me here. I
am in Taiwan

Danny Bloom
newspaperman too!


dan said...

cute story here. interesting guy with an interesting website

and he gets LOTS of angry mail, too, from both sides of the fence. Me? I am not sitting on the fence at all. Agnostic believer in all people, never saw a messiah come thru the gate yet. and it;s too late now, I fear. the cults have messed everything up and we got 911 breathing down our backs! oi


The Missoulian

Hybrid holiday: Bozeman writer meshes Christmas, Hanukkah in new cookbook

"So what's it going to be, asks a new hybrid-holiday cookbook: Figgy pudding or gefilte fish? Latkes or fruitcake? Spin the dreidel or kiss under the mistletoe?

Don't choose, says Bozeman writer Ron Gompertz, a New Yorker who married a Midwesterner and who's smooshed Hanukkah and Christmas into Chrismukkah. Enjoy all of the secular traditions of each holiday by embracing both Santa and Harry Hanukkah, challah and sticky buns, matzoh ball snowmen and "Ho Ho Hummus."

Gompertz figures about 10 million Americans are matrimonially mingled, with one a Christian who grew up with reindeer and candy canes, the other a Jew nibbling on chocolate gelt and lighting menorah candles. Last year, he launched a line of humorous holiday cards that celebrate Chrismukkah, a fusion of Christmas and Hanukkah; this year he came out with "Chrismukkah: The Merry Mish-Mash Holiday Cookbook," with more than 55 hybrid-holiday recipes.

"It's as if Martha Stewart married Jon Stewart, and together they wrote a cookbook," he said.

Gompertz is working on a bigger book about the symbols and traditions of Christmas and Hanukkah, and the cookbook is one chapter of that project. He and his wife, Michelle, took family and traditional recipes, turned them over to a professional culinary teacher and chef in Bozeman - Kathy Stark, owner of Starky's Authentic, dubbed Montana's only real Jewish delicatessen - and the book was born.

It is a Montana product, from idea to photography to recipes to printing. Gompertz said he nixed the temptation to include a recipe for gefilte ham; "It would have looked and tasted awful." Three rules applied to the recipes:

They had to taste good.

They had to fuse elements from different cultures.

And they "shouldn't offend our grandparents."

Chrismukkah, Gompertz explains in the book, is a "gumbo of cherished secular traditions. It's the good stuff we can all enjoy, no matter what our faith." His family had a Hanukkah bush in his New York neighborhood, which was filled with Catholics and Protestants and other Jews. His own daughter, Minna, is growing up in Bozeman, in a home that blends Christian and Jewish cultures and traditions, he said.

As clever as the idea of Chrismukkah is, Gompertz admits he's treading on some emotional terrain. Religious history can be dark and serious, and he said he doesn't want to offend. But he does want to celebrate all cultures, and seeks "to eliminate the friction, confusion, and awkwardness" of "the December dilemma."

"Making a cohesive story and making it resonate emotionally is the challenge,"he said." I'm trying to tie in some of the more serious themes of culturalism and tolerance in our world. I didn't want to write a book making fun of Jews and Christians. I wanted to treat them with respect."

But humor is important, and "The Merry Mish-Mash Holiday Cookbook" finds it in some fun props - Godzilla and reindeer menorahs, "Oy Rogers" on his favorite horse, Trigger - and clever rewrites of holiday songs ("T'was the night before Chrismukkah, and me, being Jewish / I was 'on call' again, and feeling quite blueish").

It includes a list of 34 celebrities who might celebrate Chrismukkah, including Kate Hudson (Italian father, Jewish mother) and Paula Abdul (Syrian father, French-Canadian-Jewish mother), and also some short histories of favorite holiday foods ("Latkes are not to be confused with anything the House of Pancakes would have on the menu.")

But the recipes, designed, tested and tweaked by Stark, are the soul of the cookbook. Begin the planning with Noel Nosh appetizers such as Chutzpah Mix or Deck the Halls with Boughs of Challah. For brunch, consider Lotsa Latkes or Blitzen's Blintzes with Manny-Cranny Sauce.

After a Chrismukkah Smorgasbord that includes Mama Mia Matzah Pizza and Rabbi Reuben's Bread Pudding, choose from the chapter on Fancy-Schmancy Desserts (Kris Kringle Kugel or Gingerbread Mensch, for instance) followed by happy hour selections, including Hava Tequila Sunrise/Sunset or Clarence's Merryschewitz Mulled Wine, named after the angel from "It's a Wonderful Life," who orders mulled wine during the "evil bar scene."

Also in the cookbook: directions for making a Matzoh Bread House, a "soon-to-be-classic Chrismukkah project."

So go ahead. Cook already!

But don't forget to say grace."

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