July 29, 2014

Scrolling Headlines:

Chiarelli: Sam Koch’s impact evident in those who knew him best -

Monday, July 21, 2014

Longtime UMass men’s soccer coach Sam Koch dies after two-year battle with sinus cancer -

Monday, July 21, 2014

Southwest evacuated after gas leak -

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

UMass Rowing finishes NCAA Championships, ends year ranked No. 21 in the nation -

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Two UMass basketball alums to compete for a lofty prize in The Basketball Tournament -

Friday, May 23, 2014

Commencement Photos 2014 -

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Two arrested in relation to series of vandalism -

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Students push for relocation of the Center for Counseling and Psychological Health -

Monday, May 12, 2014

Video: No. 14 UMass WLAX ends season in loss to Loyola (MD) -

Saturday, May 10, 2014

No. 14 UMass women’s lacrosse season ends in loss to Loyola (MD) -

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Sixth inning rally propels UMass past Dayton 7-2 -

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

McMahon, Ferris and McGovern: Not your usual transfer story -

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Women’s lacrosse defeats Richmond 10-6 to win sixth straight A-10 Championship -

Sunday, May 4, 2014

No. 13 UMass women’s lacrosse knocks off Duquesne 16-3 to reach Atlantic 10 finals -

Friday, May 2, 2014

UMass one of 55 schools currently facing investigation over handling of sexual assault cases -

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Two thefts reported at library -

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Senior Columns 2013-2014 -

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

UMass Dining proposes major meal plan changes -

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

UMass baseball beats UConn for first time since 2007 -

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

MTV’s seemingly controversial new show proves to be ‘Faking It’ -

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Black Friday fun

Flickr/tshein

With Thanksgiving only a few days away, the holiday season is fully upon us. Before we get too caught up in nostalgic images of Pilgrims and Native Americans feasting side by side, sleigh rides through the snow, and Santa somehow squeezing his rotund behind down the chimney, let’s talk about what the holiday season is really about: shopping.

Black Friday is, increasingly, as much a part of the season as Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah and New Year’s. It has joined their ranks as a legitimate holiday.

Black Friday first got its name in 1960s Philadelphia, when frazzled police officers started using the term to describe the massive traffic jams and overcrowded conditions that accompanied the beginning of the Christmas shopping season in the city center.

Although retailers have always hated the term for its negative connotation, as it caught on, they spun the narrative to emphasize that they go “into the black” in their ledger books while recording massive holiday profits.

Whatever the reason for its name, Black Friday gets a lot of flak because it is the actual manifestation of the blatant and sometimes violent consumerism that is currently synonymous with the holiday season. And people are growing to hate the controversial holiday even more as it is slowly but surely encroaching on Thursday’s traditional festivities.

Over the past couple decades; retailers have been opening their doors for after-Thanksgiving sales at earlier and earlier hours. Early-bird specials once began at 6 a.m., but no one bats an eyelash at sales starting at 4 a.m. Many malls and retailers open at midnight, but in 2011, stores like Target and Walmart opened their doors on Thanksgiving night mere hours after the conclusion of the feasting, rather than waiting for midnight.

The effect has been dubbed the “Black Friday creep,” and it has prompted employees at chain retailers like K-Mart, Target and Walmart to start online petitions, saying their employers have taken it too far and calling for a return to even midnight openings. A petition by a Target employee in California has garnered over 300,000 signatures.

Not only does prioritizing shopping over time with family look bad symbolically (cue your grandma asking, “Is nothing sacred anymore!?”), but some employees of these stores miss the holiday completely, as they have to prepare for the crowds of shoppers long before doors open.
For anyone who’s been a part of the Black Friday madness or even seen footage of it on the news, it’s obvious that not only are hoards of shoppers rude and pushy, but they can also be deadly.

In 2008, a man working at a Walmart in Long Island, N.Y., was trampled to death after an out of-control crowd of shoppers broke down the doors and stampeded into the store.

Last year, 20 people were treated for injuries after a woman, who later turned herself in to police, pepper sprayed shoppers at a Los Angeles Walmart. She was after an Xbox 360.

These violent scenes are not isolated incidents: chaotic scenes such as these are becoming the iconic images of the holiday season. Even when they aren’t violent, images of people waiting in lines on Thanksgiving night to get sale items and then eagerly rushing the doors of Best Buy the moment they open strike me as silly or even embarrassing.

The Boston Globe recently published an article called “Malls start Black Friday earlier,” and it explained how the staffs at malls owned by the Simon Property Group (including the South Shore Plaza in Braintree and the Natick Mall) plan to welcome their Black Friday guests. Police details will be arranged at the South Shore Plaza and the first 250 shoppers will receive a “survival kit” including things like hand sanitizer, water and a snack to make sure they don’t drop as they shop. Staff will apparently also be handing out snacks during the shopping frenzy to keep energy up, as if Thanksgiving dinner wasn’t filling enough.

So apparently a “normal” opening time of 12:30 a.m. doesn’t preclude utter insanity.
However, a small ray of light still exists for those of us disillusioned with the holiday shopping mania. According to the CNNMoney article “Wal-Mart workers plan Black Friday walkout,” employee protests at a 1,000 Walmarts nationwide, including one walk out, are expected this year.

It’s unclear how much of an impact these protests will have on sales, and maybe more importantly consumer attitudes towards Black Friday shopping. The good or bad news is that we only have to wait a couple days to see what kind of madness hits the fan this year.

Hannah Sparks is a Collegian columnist. She can be reached at hsparks@student.umass.edu.

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