So I hear now the companies that own the malls are strong arming their tenants into being open on Thanksgiving Day… (oh and look, some places are now calling it Brown Thursday.)

 

The shops in many malls are being told they will be open or face a fine of some sort.  Figures I’ve found are as high as a thousand dollars an hour that a shop isn’t open.  That puts the shop owner between a rock and a hard place.  What’s the owner supposed to do?

 

I first heard about this whole thing when a posting showed up on Facebook from a friend who herself is a small business owner.  She knows how small businesses work, so I take this posting pretty seriously.

 

Clicking the posting sent me to a story about a mall near Buffalo, New York (Walden Galleria, a property of Pyramid Management Group) in which the shop owners are being told that they will be open when the mall is open or face fines.

 

Then I did a search – and this little mall in New York is not alone.  I found places in Massachusetts, Florida and Texas that are feeling the same kind of pressure from their owner conglomerates.  I checked the posting that my friend had put up, and she mentioned that there’s a Facebook page called BOYCOTT BLACK THURSDAY that lists Simon Property Group of Indianapolis who are apparently doing the same thing – and they own properties in 43 states and countries, so we’re not talking small potatoes here.  (You can find a list of their properties at http://www.simon.com/mall).

 

But then, to be fair, do these mall shop owners know what they’re getting into when they sign a lease?  Is there language in those leases that cover this whole ‘you have to be open when we say so’ matter?  Yet, this whole idea of being open on Thanksgiving was never a big issue until now – so is it the property management that’s pushing the issue?  How far can it go?

 

Do you notice they all use the same reasoning for their financial policies?  “It’s what the people want”, they say.  “We’re forced into such practices because that’s when they want us.”

 

I want to know this:  How do they know it’s what the people want?  Where do they get their numbers?  Are they reading the polls in magazines like THE COSMOPOLITAN and PEOPLE magazine?  Where are these number coming from?

 

Now when it comes to research and using statistics, there are numbers and there are numbers –

Those polls that show that the Khardashians are such and such – I mean, five me a break.  Those polls that tell us of the trends of political thought – some have merit.  Then there’s the studies in the medical world that use proper statistical gathering techniques – they’re credible.  I think it is fair to expect that the surveys used about our shopping habits be as scientific as the medical studies we get from the American Medical Association and the like ..

 

But I do not see the reliable info enough to believe that the people want all this shopping available to them all the time, and that’s where I am.  Are there reliable numbers out there?  I don’t’ know …but I do know I haven’t seen them.

 

I can’t help but believe there’s just as much strong-arming in the retail mall business as there is from those wonderful folks down at the pharmaceuticals, or at the oil companies, or the other conglomerates that we are more aware of.  That is a frightening thought.

 

Are we becoming that hard, where the profit is the last word?  Where the family life of the owner and the employees mean so little??

 

So what can be done?

 

There’s that ‘BOYCOTT BLACK THURSDAY” page on Facebook.  I don’t know if that would work, but it couldn’t hurt to check out … Boycotts just haven’t seemed to have the influence they used to have … but hey, maybe.  Who knows?

 

And remember, there’s one thing retailers have that we customers don’t have – an organization to concentrate their efforts.  There are Chamber of Commerce groups, retail association (Shoe sellers of America, UNITE.)  But is there an organization that advocates for the customer?  There are not that I know of.  If anything is going to be effective, there are no organizations to speak up for us.

 

It’s your call.  As for me, I’ll stay home.

 

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