If you come to Blue Buddha’s retail shop on Thanksgiving weekend, you’ll find the lights out and this sign on the door:
The people working our online shop are also off for the weekend, which means we’ll accept orders but we won’t start processing and shipping them until the Monday after Thanksgiving.
I’ve had several people, mostly fellow entrepreneurs, look at me and say, “What, are you crazy?” when they find out we are closed on Black Friday. This is usually followed by, “Wait, WHAT?” when they hear we don’t re-open until Monday. Once they get over the initial flabbergastation, they’ll usually counter with one of the 5 points below.
1. “But it’s the biggest shopping day of the year! Retailers live for this day!”
Maybe big box retailers live for that day, but as a creative company that is focused on quality products and experiences every day, we can hardly imagine putting all our retail eggs into one Black Friday basket. We work hard all year to create exceptional products and experiences for our customers and to inspire people all over the world. Waiting for that one day a year where we put red stickers on everything because “that’s what everyone else does,” just doesn’t fit our culture.
B3 customers totally rock and, while they love a good deal as much as the rest of us, they always seem to value quality of product and experience over all else. The type of experience found in most frenzied Black Friday sales is not exactly what we think our customers are looking for. We will still have our twice-a-year coveted mass overstock sales, but there’s no need to do it on a day when everyone else is doing it, too.
2. “What made you decide to close? And for the entire weekend?”
About a dozen years ago, I lived in Germany for a while. At first I was shocked, then upset, when I discovered most stores are closed on Sunday. During the month of August, many businesses–even restaurants!–close for weeks at a time while the owners go on holiday. “What kind of insanity is this?” I thought.
And then, after a while, I realized it wasn’t insanity; it was actually really, really nice. Here were people who felt like they deserved to take some time for themselves, and a culture that embraced such notions. That was a really powerful realization for me, that life doesn’t have to be a giant rat race. I vowed that if I ever owned my own business, I would abide by this European mentality. Work-life balance can be difficult to achieve, but giving employees–and myself–permission to recharge is a step in the right direction. Holidays were created for a reason. Even though we now live in a fast-paced, technology-driven world, I don’t see the value in discarding the tradition of holidays. If anything, having the time to follow our passions and be with loved ones helps us stay in touch with our very humanity.
3. “Aren’t you worried you’ll lose business?”
I understand that people expect businesses, especially e-commerce stores, to be open and shipping 24/7. I get it–I can be one of those people, too. But honestly, I think Blue Buddha has some of the coolest customers around, and I am certain that most of them (especially the ones who’ve been with us for years and already know we close on holidays) will not only understand, but will say, “Hell yeah! You go, B3!” I think they’ll appreciate us for valuing our team so much that we give them this weekend off. It’s only one long weekend. We are open for pretty much all of the other 52 weekends of the year (unless, of course, a national holiday falls on that day ).
A couple days off is not going to bring our entire business down. Not even close.
I accept that there might be a few people who will be so disappointed in our company because we aren’t there to serve them during this four-day period that they’ll vow to never shop with us again. And I’m willing to take that loss.
4. “I’ll bet you’re glad you’re saving money by not having to pay your employees!”
Well, actually, our workers (even part-timers) receive holiday pay for Thanksgiving. Nice try, though.
5. *pause* “Um, well, good luck with that…”
Thanks! My team busts their butts every day. While the company can’t afford to pay them awesomely, we can afford to compensate them in other ways, including some paid time off. It’s nice for us to realize that even though 98.9% of the year we are all about the customers, on these four days, it’s all about taking care of ourselves. I am truly, truly thankful to have such a great team, and this is one thing I can do to show it.
I hope you are able to spend this holiday in whatever way is best for you, and I hope you respect our decision to turn our back on this retail tradition.
As the sign says: Live, craft, hug, eat, laugh, cuddle, rock out, sleep, breathe, meditate, party … and simply “be” … more. Not only this weekend, but every chance you get. Life is too short.
If you like this post, please leave a comment below, share the sign, tell your friends, vow to not be angry the next time your favorite store or restaurant is closed for a day. Perhaps we can begin to create a shift in culture to one that sees people as individuals rather than replaceable, ’round-the-clock workers. This culture places a high value on deeply rich and varied experiences instead of on materialistic consumerism. The people of this culture love innovation and instant access to information, yet not at the expense of running the workers ragged. If occasionally we have to wait for something, it’s OK, we understand. It just gives us more time to do something else we love.
With warmest thoughts,