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Burn the Boats

Bleak Friday

By November 21. 2012 11:19AM

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EDITOR’S NOTE: If you’re the kind of person who passes up on after-dinner coffee on Thanksgiving so you can run out and park in front of Best Buy to save $70 on an outdated Blu-Ray player that’s been on the shelf for 14 months with no hope of being sold without the gimmick of a midnight doorbuster, today’s blog isn’t for you.

Well, another Thanksgiving is upon us, and with it, of course, is Black Friday, which I prefer to call Loss Leader Friday, both because it’s a chance for retailers to unload crap they couldn’t sell all year and because you have to be a loser to spend a night in the frigid cold waiting to fill the hole in your life with a new Xbox at a slight discount.

Still, it’s an important moment for retailers, who get to clear out their shelves of unwanted stuff at a discount so they can bring in shiny new things that people actually want, only those will be discounted as well, since everyone knows the best sales are the week before Christmas. We can only hope there won’t be a body count this year.

But all is not well in the world of gigantic retailers. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is fending off a strike as workers protest being forced to work on Thanksgiving. Of course, this is just the natural order of things. Black Friday sales aren’t impressive enough, so you stretch it out a few hours by bleeding it into Thanksgiving. It’s the same reason major shopping malls have Santa visiting before the Columbus Day sales start.

I don’t attempt to relay complex topics in this blog so much as I go for cynical and sarcastic laughs, so if you want the backstory, here’s a good place to start. But the situation got me thinking about my other favorite pastime, you know, besides insulting professional bargain-hunters: professional ice hockey, which of course is locked out. The owners and players’ union can’t figure out how to split a $3 billion pie, so two months of games have been wiped out and many players have taken off to Europe to play.

The average NHL salary, according to Forbes, is $2.4 million a year. There were no U.S. games scheduled for Thanksgiving; a game between two Canadian teams was canceled because of the lockout. The average wage of an hourly cashier at Walmart is about $8.50 an hour. One of these parties has every right to call attention to the labor plight it faces. The other plays a game for a living, and is doing the same now.

Just something to think about, whether you spend the weekend shopping or pining for hockey.

I’m even more irreverent on Twitter @joe_arney.


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