The End of Black Friday

Could we make Black Friday 2020 the last one?

I started my morning, for the first time since 2004, without being in Toronto at the One of a Kind Show. It's funny how one can become so accustomed to something that they find themselves at a complete loss for its sudden non-existence. Very often this day is one of our largest shopping days of the year, because of that show. So, it's very surreal sitting here in front of a computer while I'm usually sitting in front of a shopper, introducing them to Peppermaster.

If you've been with us a while you know that Greg and I have been actively working on world food sovereinty since the beginning. Although, normally we just talk about buying local, paying an equitable price and ensuring human rights and the planet are considered by our suppliers. It is our great desire that all businesses would consider these things in their business dealings, but because they don't or won't, we do. We don't do most things like most others because we need to put our hearts and our souls into everything that we do.

Not so many years ago, the third Friday in November was known as the day after Thanksgiving, the term Black Friday was not originally because of Stores throwing massive sales to attract shoppers, but rather because of a "market panic" caused by a greedy group of brokers known as the Gold Ring in a failed attempt to force up the price of gold and corner the market. The conspiracy actually included the brother in law of the US President of the time, Ulysses S. Grant. That Black Friday 1969 caused scandal and great financial ruin to a large part of the USA and nearly threw the US into a national depression.

 

In the failed attempt to get people to buy their gold, stock prices collapsed by 20 percent, dozens of brokerage firms were bankrupted. Farmers, per usual, were they who suffered the worst, though. Wheat prices were halved, corn dropped by a third and most other grain crops suffered similar loss. American agriculture was thrown into a a steep decline that threatened to drive the USA into a National depression. The story goes that Grant got whiff of the scandal and managed to prevent some of it, but it took months for the US economy to recover. Interestingly both of the brokers who caused the panic were cleared of wrongdoing and both died very wealthy men.

The modern day Black Friday, by contrast began rather casually during the 1950s, as the day after Thanksgiving became the starter pistol, if you will, for the Christmas shopping season. Coined in Philadelphia, it was specifically to refer to the fact that police officers in Philly didn't get the day off when US Football fans would overrun the city for the Annual Army - Navy game, shopping, entertainment, general rowdy roughhousing, shoplifting, etc. As a result the police resented having to police the enormous crowds. The name began to annoy merchants of the city who tried for many years to change it to Big Friday, though, and failed.

So, in 1966, when the monniker was used in an ad published in the magazine, the American Philatelist. Anyone who disliked the connotations of the original Black Friday was all over rewriting its meaning and picked up the ball and ran with it. By the late 1980s, both of the original names Black Friday had been successfully co-opted and by 2019, US consumers were spending $7.5 billion online that day alone. Black Friday has become a huge mad scramble, a gluttonous feeding frenzy of low-priced big box capitalism.

Over the last few years, as we have watched retailers here in Canada jump on the Black Friday bandwagon, we would cringe as we watched the day become an entire weekend, culminating with a Cyber-Monday. Yet, here we are. Whether it was either of the original Black Fridays or today's, all seem indicative of the morass of consumerism of the most egregious kind. What is so all-fired important that you can only buy your holiday presents on this weekend? We find the consumerism and extravagance just a little over the top. So, when our marketing team's first question was "what are we doing for Black Friday". Our answer was, we're writing a blog to tell people what Black Friday actually means to us and why we're not really doing anything other than that about it.

We'd like to point out, by contrast, the relatively new creation of what has become known as Small Business Saturday, which is the Saturday of this Black Friday weekend. As a small business whose suppliers tend to be other small businesses, we encourage you, in your consumerism, to take advantage of Small Business Saturday, and target your shopping, now and forever more towards your small local businesses. Through our work with the Fair Trade movement we know very well how just a little consumerism targeting a local community can change the lives of entire villages. So, ignore Black Friday, but target Small Business Saturday.

We started Peppermaster with a goal of creating the best tasting sauces with the best quality ingredients we could find, and of course, this while paying the farmer a fair price and ensuring said farmer is supporting the human rights of their children and their employees. Sharing these ideals with our customers has been easy in the past, because we only sell through our shop, here in Rigaud, Quebec, local Farmers' markets and the Canadian Artisan shows where our customers have gotten to know us.

This year, what is normally day two of the One of a Kind Show, in Toronto, is actually a full month into the show, and our usual customers are visiting the show, and we have been thrilled to see both old familiar names and new ones pop up in our visitor's list.

We do miss the human interaction, most, as you must, and so we did set up a virtual booth for you to come and visit. Beginning today, you can use this link: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/84581984333 to visit our virtual Zoom room, between 12:00 and 5:00 pm, every day through December 20th. Feel welcome to pop in and say hello. Unfortunately, because we are in a pandemic Red Zone, there will be no sampling. The Zoom allows sufficient distancing that you don't require a mask, though! We recommend washing your hands anyway, because that's just good hygiene.

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