Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Plaid Friday — It's a thing!

Image "borrowed" from Minneapolis Happening Mag

First, I'll just admit that I have never liked "Black Friday." The name just sounds dreary and ominous, and the shopping frenzy at the mall and big box stores even worse. I've never really understood the appeal or why so many people want to subject themselves to it, and with such zeal, no less.

So then there was Buy Nothing Day, an anti-consumerism campaign started by Ad Busters; an understandable rebellion against the rampant consumerism that reaches such a fevered pitch at this time of year.

But that always seemed a little extreme to me. Sure, I could take all the money I would normally spend for gifts and decor and such and give it to some worthy charities instead, while spending the holiday season on meaningful activities that don't involve buying things.

But, let's be honest here: What's the fun in that?

I think Buy Nothing Day misses a very important point: that it's possible to engage in the consumer economy in a moderate, enjoyable, and beneficial way, and set aside some of your holiday budget to give to charity.

And I think it overlooks the equally important fact that it isn't just about the mega retailers who depend upon Christmas shopping to keep their shareholders happy. Small, independent businesses in our communities need our dough for their very survival; and they aren't asking for charity, they're offering an excellent value, because they not only sell cool stuff—unique items, often locally  handmade, quirky secondhand goods, or imported through fair trade cooperatives, that you won't find at the big stores—but they also provide a pleasant, personal shopping experience, and help to make our neighborhoods vibrant.

So along comes Plaid Friday. Started in Oakland, California, in 2010, it's an initiative of small independent businesses to promote shopping local and small on what is otherwise known as Black Friday. And they encourage people to wear plaid while doing so!

The plaid gambit isn't just a playful thumbing of noses against the big guys, although that would be reason enough to get on the plaid bandwagon, but it was conceived as symbolic of:

weaving the individual threads of small businesses together to create a strong fabric that celebrates the diversity and creativity of independent businesses  (From the Plaid Friday website.)

It's been spreading throughout the country since its inception in 2010, and it has recently come to the Twin Cities (possibly last year, though I only learned about it a few days ago). 

I may have to start my plaid Friday outing by shopping for a plaid scarf to wear.

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