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Frank Gray

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Swikar Patel | The Journal Gazette
The Target store on Coldwater Road plans to open its doors at 9 tonight for Black Friday.

Are holidays going to be thing of past?

I remember when almost all stores were closed on Sundays. The only businesses open were drugstores and restaurants.

At the time, I lived in a town where the owner of a grocery decided people needed to buy food on Sunday, so he announced he would open on Sunday, even though that was illegal.

Well, Sunday came, he opened for business and got a $50 ticket, a pretty stiff fine at the time. He paid the ticket and said he’d see the police again the next Sunday.

This went on until everyone realized it was getting silly, so police stopped giving him tickets and the blue laws that prohibited doing business on Sunday were abolished.

Now almost everyone, except for Hobby Lobby, Chick-fil-A and most dry cleaners, is open on Sunday.

That’s not all bad. If a store is open 16 percent more hours, it has to hire 16 percent more people or pay people to work 16 percent more hours. That’s good for the economy, right?

But at least we still have holidays.

Now, those are giving way, too.

A few years ago, as I recall, stores started opening at the crack of dawn – 6 a.m. – on so-called “Black Friday,” the day after Thanksgiving. At the time, many employees groused.

I remember thinking that was downright silly. Who really gets up at 6 a.m. the day after Thanksgiving to go shopping? Some people will, but not that many, I thought.

Then businesses started opening at midnight on Thanksgiving Night to get a jump on the competition. And employees groused again. Who, I thought, really goes shopping at midnight on Thanksgiving Night? Some, but not many, I figured.

Now, some stores have announced they are going to open at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving, before the dishes have even been cleared from the table. The reason, again, is to get a jump on the competition and let shoppers take advantage of super sales. This time, employees are grousing, and some are even threatening to strike.

Once again, I think opening Thanksgiving Night is silly. First, no one is really getting a jump on the competition because almost everyone is opening at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving.

As far as shoppers looking for that deal of a lifetime, I think we all know what will happen. There will be only a handful of those tremendous deals available, so even if you do head out at 8 p.m., you’ll only run into a line of people who have been there since breakfast, ready to snatch up the bargains before you make it in the door.

I wonder what would happen if a business announced that it had decided to let its employees enjoy the holiday and not open until Friday morning. J.C. Penney did that, but they’re one of the few that has. We’ll have to wait and see how the public reacts.

I suspect we’ll eventually get to the point where stores never close. We’ll have holidays, but in name only. Only people who work for the government – and maybe banks – will get the day off.

For my part, I don’t contribute to this madness. I won’t shop on Thanksgiving Night or at midnight or 6 a.m. the day after Thanksgiving.

I’ll wait until the weekend – before Christmas.

Frank Gray reflects on his and others’ experiences in columns published Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. He can be reached by phone at 461-8376, by fax at 461-8893, or by email at fgray@jg.net. You can also follow him on Twitter @FrankGrayJG.

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