Hennen Column: Time To Turn Back The Clock On Holiday Shopping?

blackfriday

Another “Black Friday” is in the books and “Thanksgiving creep” is the latest retailing craze. I’m busy remembering the days when a 7am start was “opening early for your shopping convenience.” Now it’s crept into Thanksgiving Day. Enough already. Being the capitalist free enterprise fan I am, I have great respect for the premise of willing buyer, willing seller. Profit is a good thing, it creates jobs and allows employees to provide for their families. With more and more competition from on-line options, bricks and mortar stores need to get even more creative to attract customers. Fine. But can we draw the line on Thanksgiving and Christmas?

Would it be so bad to have all stores and restaurants closed on these two sacred holidays? I’m not joining the wacky anti-Wal-Mart union protestors, but I am of the opinion that our culture is fast deteriorating. Much of that can be attributed to the disintegration of families. Maybe if we start by returning to the days when towns shut down on Thanksgiving and Christmas, we’d spark an effort to turn back the clock to what matters most. The alternative is to stand by and watch it get worse.

I’m not advocating for a return to the days of the blue laws controlling whether stores should be open, I’d prefer that common sense to dictate it. And I’m not naive enough to think that a simple gesture like this would reverse years of cultural decline and sad statistics on American families. But how about this one small gesture? What would it hurt? North Dakota has nation leading job economic growth thanks to record oil production and another great farming season, why not show America that our ancestors had it right and we’re turning the back the clock to the days of allowing everyone the opportunity to be with families on these holidays? Might it start a “follow the leader” stampede? Who knows. But, it would make us a better place in 2 more ways than we already are.

I brought this topic to my listeners on the Common Sense Club. The debate was fun. The owner of a Minnesota Truck Stop shared this story:

“We are open every day of every year now, but when I bought it 10 some years ago, due to employees recommendations, I closed on Christmas Day. But I went to the store as a new owner one Christmas.

Wow, I remember a grandma stopping and asking for baby supplies as they were traveling. We were closed, but I was there and I let her in for the supplies. The tills were empty with no cash.

I just let her take the baby supplies and have a great day. I have never closed since – we serve our traveling customers”.

While that is a nice story of a heartwarming gesture from a store owner, isn’t this simply an example of how much we expect stores to be open on holidays? And if stores being closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas were “the norm”, wouldn’t Grandma’s simply stock up before a holiday trip?

Here is another comment:

“I was a teen back in the 80’s when the Sunday opening was being debated. I clearly remember being with my dad, a cattle rancher in western ND, when his banker asked him what my dad thought of the Sunday opening. My dad replied: ‘I hope everything is open on Sunday. I can drop off my cattle at the sale barn before church, then after church get something to eat, drop the wife off at the grocery store and go get my cattle check and put it in the bank…I won’t have to come back to town til next Sunday’. The look on the bankers face was priceless. Lets get back to being closed on Sunday and holidays”.

Feel the momentum? Not everything about the “good old days” is better. But I love the idea of taking a page form the Hobby Lobby playbook and seeing stores with a “CLOSED this HOLIDAY so our employees can spend time with their FAMILIES too”. We’d survive. And North Dakota would be better for it.

Scott Hennen hosts a daily radio talk show from 11am to 2pm on AM 1100 “The Flag from Fargo, ND and WBKK AM 820 in Bemidji, Minn plus heard from 2 to 5pm on AM 1090 KTGO in Tioga/Williston, N.D. Listen at ScottHennen.com, join him on Facebook and Twitter too.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters. He writes a weekly column for several North Dakota newspapers, and also serves as a policy fellow for the North Dakota Policy Council.

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