The Times West Virginian

December 1, 2013

Should Black Friday start on Thanksgiving?

By Misty Poe
Times West Virginian

— George Takei, once just a character actor on a hokey 1960s television show, has found a new life as a social media guru. A very unlikely one.

With nearly 6 million followers on Facebook alone, his page doesn’t even crack the top 25. The former Mr. Sulu actually doesn’t author a lot of the jokes or statements on his page. But when he speaks, the world of Facebook listens. And they like. And they share.

So when Takei weighed in on the whole shopping on Thanksgiving issue, nearly 400,000 people “liked” it, thousands commented and even more “shared” the status.

“When stores like Walmart move their Black Friday sales to Thanksgiving Day, they truly have forgotten the purpose of the holiday — and cynically ask their employees to leave their loved ones, too,” the actor and director wrote. “Stay with your families on Thursday, friends. Cook and eat together. Watch a football game or a family movie. Call your relatives. Don’t waste your precious day off standing in lines or fighting crowds in malls. — Uncle George.”

Maybe more should have heeded Uncle George’s advice. A shopper was walking down the street in Las Vegas, carrying a big-screen TV he had purchased with an extreme discount. He was shot by someone driving by.

A man was accused of shoplifting at a Khol’s in Chicago and ran to his car. The officer that followed him got his arm shut in the door of the car as the man fled and other responders fired shots at the car.

In Virginia, one man stabbed another in a brawl over a parking spot at Walmart at 6:30 p.m., when until two years ago, people would still be at home, watching football and contemplating making a turkey sandwich.

With consumer confidence low, retail chains fought back by offering deeper discounts for Black Friday, only the biggest and best sales started at about 6 p.m. Thursday. There were certainly frenzies as consumers clamored over big-ticket items in limited quantities.

Remember when we just fought to see who’d get the last slice of pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving? Traditions change. Six hours earlier than years before meant that retailers could extend Black Friday and lure shoppers away from the dining room table to spend, spend, spend.

Did it work?

Well, 69.1 million people hit the stores, many starting on the holiday despite public outcry that retailers should stay closed on Thanksgiving.

We took it to our readers, the ones who log on to each week to vote in our online poll question. Last week we asked, “There are many upset with major retail stores being open on Thanksgiving Day for early Black Friday shopping. What are your thoughts?”

And here’s what you had to say:

• I’ll be in line, turkey leg in hand, to get some of these deals. — 4.63 percent.

• I’m not going to shop because I’d rather watch football, eat turkey and spend time with loved ones. — 34.26 percent.

• I will not shop because those store employees cannot enjoy a holiday all in the name of the bottom line. — 61.11 percent.

Well, that is what readers said. Now whether any if them were at the Fairmont Walmart Thursday night ... From all reports, most of the county was there.

And speaking of shopping, the average American family spends $801 on Christmas presents. Where do you stack up?

Log on. Vote. Email me or respond online.

Misty Poe

Managing Editor