It’s Thanksgiving week, the start of America’s favorite month-long festival of capitalism. It starts this week with three of the biggest shopping days of the year, and no doubt many of you will be out there trying to score some bargains this weekend. If you’re headed out into the crowds or just planning on sitting at home and clicking your way to a bountiful Christmas, keep in mind the following tips to shop responsibly this season.
- First and foremost, keep it civil. There is absolutely no shame in taking advantage of Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals to help stretch your family’s dollar, but be mindful of your behavior. Be especially conscious of being polite, patient, and courteous when dealing with retail clerks. Working retail on Black Friday is no picnic, and it’s not the clerk’s fault the store is out of the item you’re coveting.
- Even though many stores are choosing to try to grab your dollars earlier by being open on Thanksgiving, consider not shopping on Thursday to send a message to retailers that their employees should be home with their families on Thanksgiving and not working. Costco, Game-Stop, Pier 1 and Home Depot will all be closed Thursday.
- Consider skipping Black Friday entirely and partake of Small Business Saturday instead. Small Business Saturday is a day set aside to recognize the contributions America’s small businesses make in our communities and to support those businesses. Keep in mind that most of the dollars you spend at a big-box store will leave your community and probably help pay for an executive’s yacht, but the dollars you spend at a small business stay in your community. I’m not generally in the habit of quoting Facebook memes, but big-box dollars buy yachts and small business dollars pay for dance lessons and Little League teams.
- Look for union-made products. The International Association of Fire Fighters union runs a great database of products made with union labor. It’s also worth noting that the AFL-CIO is currently boycotting Staples due to a pilot program the American Postal Workers Union is concerned would lead to privatization of USPS services.
- Buy American. This should be obvious and go without saying, but here it is. Even though your shiny new TV is made by an “American” company, it’s probably built overseas. Wages paid to American workers are much more vital to our economy than stock market returns created on the backs of sweatshops.
- If your budget allows, grab a few extra items for your favorite charitable organization. Whether it’s a toy for Toys For Tots, canned goods for your favorite food pantry, pet food for your favorite animal rescue, or toiletries and essentials for your favorite shelter, consider devoting a few of your holiday shopping dollars to charitable giving.
- You can still shop local on Cyber Monday! I get it, it’s convenient to shop online. You can have my Amazon Prime when you pry it from my cold, dead hands. But lots of local small businesses will have great online deals this holiday season, too!
In short, it’s possible to get some great deals this holiday season while still using your dollars to express your values. Be mindful of the purchases you’re making and where you’re making them, and in the long run we’ll all have a better, more ethical economy that works for all of us.