On Friday morning I was reading the Derry News at my in-laws table, still woozy from friends, family, laughter and pie the night before. That’s when I saw the third page article about Plaid Friday.
Plaid Friday? Plaid’s not going to do anything to hide my bulging Thanksgiving belly, What happened to slimming Black?
Well, it turns out Plaid Friday is one alternative to Black Friday (the other I’ve found focuses on buying nothing on Black Friday). According to the Plaid Friday website –
Plaid Friday celebrates the diversity and creativity of independent businesses. Plaid Friday is the fun and enjoyable alternative to the big box store “Black Friday”, and is designed to promote both local and independently owned businesses during the holidays.
The website lists about 200 participating businesses, approximately half in California (Oakland being the creative center of this movement), and the other 100 across the United States. On their blog, the first post is about Somerville’s Chocolatier Taza and their participation.
When it comes to Christmas shopping (or shopping in general), there are a couple desires jostling harder than the guy cutting the lines in front of Walmart. One is to get good deals on as much stuff as possible. Another is to find the perfect gift for people we love. Often another is to make an ethical purchasing choice. While purchasing from local businesses is not on the same moral scale of boycotting products made with child labor, such considerations about purchasing has racheted up on consumer consciences in past years due to newspaper articles, studies on changing consumer behavior, and simply more focus on sustainable living pervading American society.
One way to satisfy all three of these could be with Plaid Friday sales; maximizing as many of these values and goals as possible. What I like especially about the movement is that it presents a “third alternative” to either buying from “Big Box” stores, or not purchasing anything at all. Yet it subtly addresses the fact that the way our society is structured at the moment, people will be consuming goods others have created, whether they be bought or borrowed. As Mark Twain said, “Naked people have little or no influence on society.”
So whether you choose to wear plaid or black when shopping, see how much you can find in your local stores first. Then try the big boxes. Finally, perhaps think twice before venturing into a retail establishment at all. In the slightly twisted words of Michael Pollan “buy goods, mostly necessities, not too much”. Research show that experiences bring more pleasure than goods, and these experiences can be found in your own locales via theaters, restaurants, or salons in the area.
Consider checking out the 3/50 Project webpage for more details about another “buy local” movement which has been around since 2009.