retail news in context, analysis with attitude

I wrote the other day that I was less sympathetic to Kmart employees not wanting to work on Thanksgiving than I was to other retail employees, simply because it seems to me that Kmart could be one lousy holiday season away from extinction.

Which led MNB user Clarke Ross to write:

Really Kevin, you would be less sympathetic to a group of individuals that may lose their jobs completely! That’s Cold. You may want to rethink that!!!

Let me say that I am totally against shopping on Thanksgiving as I had to work on Thanksgiving for 21 years, Your statement is totally cruel and shows no compassion. While Kmart may not be the best, those folks are trying to take care of their families. Take your personal opinion out of the equation and think about all involved.

You're right. That was a little cold. (Though I think taking my personal opinion out of the equation sort of misses the point of writing commentary.)

But there are cold realities about Kmart's viability that have to be faced.

From another reader, on the same subject:

As someone who grew up in retail, I find the whole public discussion about whether stores should be closed on Thanksgiving to be disingenuous, to say the least. Retail is all about being open when consumers want to shop. Weekends, nights and holidays are part of the deal, and I’ve worked more of all of those than I can remember. Way back when I started, we were closed four days a year: Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s. Those closings slowly went away over time, as did idea of closing at all; we were open 24 hours for a number of years. 

Maybe we should keep our televisions off so no one has to work at local stations as well. And what about emergency personnel – do we let them stay home? There is a large portion of the population that works when the majority of folks are off, including every night, every weekend and every holiday. For many people, this is okay. They adapt, or they appreciate being off when the rest of the world is working – there are upsides to this lifestyle. 

We don’t live in a 9 to 5 world. Many of us still work weekends, evenings and holidays through the magic of mobile devices and notebook computing (yes, that’s sarcasm). Let's stop worrying about Thanksgiving and whether the local store is open or closed, unless we plan to shop.

Again, I'm conflicted. I wish that stores could stay closed on Thanksgiving, but understand that competitive realities make this impossible in a lot of cases.

Also, if I'm going to be honest, I've gone to restaurants and movie theaters on Thanksgiving over the years, and I'm certainly glad that they were open and operating. (Though I cannot imagine ever shopping …. I don't even go into stores on Black Friday, just in principle.)

On the subject of whether keeping animals in gestation crates is cruel, one MNB user wrote:

I’ve been to hundreds of manufacturing/processing facilities over my career. I have to admit the ugliest, most grotesque facility I ever visited was a chicken kill plant in Arkansas. It was a major league grower. The birds are waiting on a truck at the dock in milk/egg crates, either two or four to a crate. Lots of noise. The worker has wire mesh gloves, reaches into the bottom of the crate, pulls the birds out by the feet and hangs them upside down on shackles which are attached to a moving trolley.  The chickens get stunned as you describe, then they go through a tunnel where a blade slices their throat. The hardest part to watch was the guy (he makes an extra .50 cents an hour) in a yellow and very bloody raincoat holding  a butcher knife. He stands at the end of the slicing tunnel, and he manually slices open the throat of any bird that missed the slicer. It is truly like a horror movie and the smell will make you throw up. I think I went 6 months without eating chicken after seeing that.


On another subject, an MNB user wrote:

Regarding the retreat by Westminster, Massachusetts' attempt to ban the sale of any tobacco product: You wrote "Tobacco is legal. It makes perfect sense for companies, like CVS, to decide not to sell tobacco because it is at odds with its image as a health care provider. But I'm not sure some sort of modern prohibition is the way to go, if for no other reason than we know how it went the last time."  I agree with you in that it absolutely should be up to the retailer as to what they sell in regard to legal products.

With that said, modern prohibition of legal products by government in various locales certainly exists tot his day.  There are many "dry counties" where one cannot legally purchase a rum and Coke, much less a bottle of Duckhorn Three Palms Merlot.  We seem to allow nanny state control in some places of health and virtue and not in others.  IMO, it should not be this way.  If the product is legal for sale, it should be allowed to be sold.

KC's View: