Let's make Black Friday a bit brighter

In the past week or two, a lot has been said and written about whether it's appropriate for Black Friday sales to "creep" into the Thanksgiving holiday. Even as you read these words, lines are forming outside some retail stores — and in some cases, the doors are already open, with shoppers forgoing the usual turkey-day nap in exchange for some early-bird bargains.

We have somewhat mixed feelings about this phenomenon. We don't like the idea that retail workers are having to cut short or abandon their holiday traditions in order to get to work, but the fact is that competition for shoppers' dollars has never been more fierce. This is make-or-break time for many stores, and if opening at midnight or even earlier will pay off in higher sales, then more power to them. 

But we'd like to offer some friendly advice to those who will join the shopping throngs today, tonight or during the weekend.

• Keep it friendly. We cringe it the memory of violence inside and outside big-box stores in recent years as people pushed and shoved their way toward the electronics counter. It's a long holiday shopping season, and Friday's specials won't be the last — or necessarily the best. So if someone shoulders their way past you, take a deep breath and let it go.

• Treat store employees with respect. Working in retail sales is seldom easy, but when the stores are packed with customers who want instant, on-the-spot service, it's especially tough. So when the lines at the cash registers are long, or when a coveted item sells out before you can nab one, don't take your frustration out on the nearest person wearing a name tag. Chance are, whatever is bothering you wasn't their fault. And, in the likely case that you do receive some great customer service, look the employee in the eye and say "Thank you!"


• Give something back. Those of us who can enjoy a Thanksgiving feast, followed by a pleasant holiday spending spree, would do well to remember that thousands of people in southeastern Minnesota probably aren't feeling particularly thankful today. The holidays are tough when you're unemployed, and with childhood poverty having hit a new record in Minnesota, it's a safe bet that a lot of youngsters aren't looking forward to a particularly bountiful holiday season.

So do what you can to help. Bring some cash with you for the Salvation Army's red kettles, which will be out in force this weekend. When you're in the toy store, pick up a couple extra items for the Marine Toys For Tots program. When you get home, go online and make a cash donation to the Channel One Food Shelf. Do something that says "I'm thankful for what I have and am willing to share it with those less fortunate."

Thanksgiving is a tradition-rich holiday, and we won't complain if after-dinner shopping replaces the usual football-and-napping combination — especially if people make giving a part of that tradition.


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