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Articles: The United States of Ferengi

If you don’t know what a Ferengi is, it’s a fictional extraterrestrial race from Star Trek, characterized by an obsession with money and profit and trade. I’m not sure whether or not the invention of the Ferengi was meant to be a metaphor for this country. But whether it was intended or not, it certainly looks as if the future universe will have this country playing the part of the Ferengi instead of the wise and kind explorers Star Trek depicted for humanity.

Despite the fact that we’re in the business of selling cool consumer products, I just feel so sick about the way the big retailers are taking one of the few family-oriented holidays we have in Thanksgiving and literally eating into it by opening up on that holiday in the race to be the first to get to the Black Friday shoppers.

It was only a very short time ago that midnight was a sort of agreed-upon line they wouldn’t cross. It was, after all, Thanksgiving.

But after a few greedy corporations started sneaking their openings earlier by opening late on Thanksgiving night, this year there has been a veritable avalanche of retailers opening earlier and earlier on Thanksgiving. Walmart and Target are leading the charge. Employees of those companies are complaining loudly. I’m absolutely with them. Keep in mind if you open at 8:00 PM, employees have to show up earlier than that to set up the store.

“Sorry Mom and Dad, I know you drove three hours to be with us on Thanksgiving, but I have to cut the evening short to go to work.”

Just sad.

I just think it’s horrible when we allow mega-corporations to dictate the culture of this country by essentially declaring that shopping is more important than family. In essence, they’re saying that a gift (or the shopping for it) is far more important than spending time with someone. Kids may not always express this, but there aren’t many intelligent people who don’t understand that a parent who spends time with his or her child but gives them little in the way of material things will be a far more effective parent than one who lavishes gifts on the kid but spends little time with them.
PowerMax will have Black Friday and Cyber Monday specials. I certainly have no problem with this whole collective-sale thing, it can be kinda fun. But the idea that it’s supposed to trump time spent with our families, both from the standpoint of shoppers and employees, is actually starting to really get me agitated. I can only pontificate and do what I can with our company. But I hate seeing our national culture become so, well, Ferengi-like.

While I am CEO, our employees will never work a minute on Thanksgiving, Christmas or Easter to gain shopping dollars. Give us three days corporate America. Three lousy days to spend with our families. But of course, ultimately, it’s up to each one of us to decide what our priorities are. Personally, I will permanently boycott any company who opens up on Thanksgiving for the purpose of Black Friday creep. 7-11, you’re exempt. You were the one store we knew would be open on Thanksgiving for that last minute grocery item we needed. That was a good deal. That was a different deal. But Target, Walmart, and the rest? My shadow will never grace your doorways again. That’s the only real power I have.

Mark my words... some large corporation will open late on Christmas Day to be the first to get the post-holiday shoppers, and then the whole avalanche will start over again. There was a time we wouldn’t have dreamt about that happening on Thanksgiving. But there’s absolutely no reason Christmas will be held any more sacred when it comes to chasing the almighty dollar.

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