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Happy Buy Nothing Day!

picture found hanging on the public announcements board at the store where I work

There were over 800 people waiting in line at 4:00AM this morning to get into the Menomonee Falls, WI Best Buy. I don’t know this because I was there, I know this because my father told me. He’s an early bird. Me, I like to let the sun get up and have its coffee before I start filling its day with my noisy business. Best Buy and 800 deal-hungry DSM-IV failing individuals, however, have no respect for the sun’s business. They were out in full force this morning to take care of their own business.

Today is Black Friday. It sounds ominous, and if you go out to a mall, it looks worse. The day of shopping deals was named such because it refers to the day that most retail stores go into the black. What they don’t mention is that it is also the day that most consumers go deeper into the red. What good is a healthy economy if the consumers are malnourished?

Today, as most of you know, is also Buy Nothing Day. A day to lay down your Visas, Mastercards and billfolds in an act of true holiday spirit and scratch-saving solidarity. A day to remember that you have more than most and don’t need that new Playstation Whee!

It is a day that I replicate almost every week. A day that helps me remember and appreciate and pace myself. A day that makes me more thankful than most people were for the football game yesterday.

Each year, I see more and more media coverage of Buy Nothing Day. Here are a few articles I’ve run across this year.

The Beginning

-In 1992, Vancouver artist Ted Dave was working as a graphic artist for the Georgia Straight and became frustrated with the rising unaffordability of day-to-day purchases. So he initiated “Buy Nothing Day,” a campaign to send a signal to the economy and the corporate sector that consumers do have power. “Absolutely everything around us in the urban environment is set up to be coercive, to get you to buy things spontaneously,” he says. Find out more and download a free Buy Nothing Day soundtrack at his website, TedDave.com.

The Good

-The Herald - A good overview of International Buy Nothing Day from UK’s The Herald.
-Leeds Today - “Don’t shop ‘cos you’ve got enough…” Nuff said.
-Napa Valley Register - John Waters Jr. is going out shopping-watching today. I might do the same.

The Bad

-McGill Daily - Anarchists support an alternative to Buy Nothing Day… Steal Something Day. Yeah, because criminal acts will definitely make people pay attention to their own rampant consumerism!
The Otherwise

-The Tyee - Jenn Farrell is a bit flippant about the participants and sentiments behind Buy Nothing Day, but her alternatives to buying nothing are something I can fully support.
-Reverend Billy - As stores kick off the holiday season with their liturgy of sales, Reverend Billy kicks it off with his own Ten Commaandments (I particularly like commandments 3 and 7).
Aaaaaand The Ugly

-Dan Solomon - My friend Dan has a riveting story from the front lines today.

So far, I have read about no violent acts or arguments over the last toy or appliance in a store. Let’s hope that keeps up. For those of you buying nothing, enjoy the extra day of relaxation! I’ll be walking through my hometown, visiting places that seem so small and far away to me now. I may even go shopping with my mother later. I won’t be buying anything. Just observing the whole spectacle. From the outside, that is exactly what it is. A crazy crazy spectacle. For those of you shopping today… be nice and be safe!

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