November 26, 2014, - 4:29 pm
I’ve always believed that on national holidays, like Thanksgiving and Memorial Day, stores (except maybe convenience stores and supermarkets) should be closed. Otherwise, the holidays don’t mean much. But we live in a free country and I believe in the free market. Stores can open on Thanksgiving and do whatever they want, even morphing what was once Black Friday into Black Thursday and a shortened Thanksgiving. (Heck, if you go to Dearbornistan, tomorrow, it will be like every other day in the Muslim Mid-East, but for taking place in the Muslim Mid-West, since the only real Thanksgiving they will have is when they’ve taken over.) That said, there is a disturbing development taking place in many malls across America where some store owners don’t want to be open, but are forced to be.
Let’s say you are an independent store owner, but your store is in a mall. Let’s say you want to be closed on Thanksgiving and give your employees the day off (Nordstrom, though not a small, independent store, does this; same for Costco and REI). Well, there’s a problem with that, and it could cost you a lot of money–money you can’t afford. The thing is, many mall leases require stores to be open whenever the mall is officially open for business. And if the mall is open for business and the independent store owner doesn’t choose to be open at, say 6:00 p.m. Thursday evening, when Macy’s and J.C. Penney (which actually opens even earlier at 5:00 p.m. on Thanksgiving) and others are open, then the mall landlord can fine the independent store for not being open. It’s a problem these store owners couldn’t possibly have imagined in advance, especially if they have a five year lease and signed it four years ago before all this madness began happening.
Some mall landlords are not grinches and, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, have said they will not fine stores that are not open. That includes the Valley River Center in Oregon, which said it will waive such fines. But that was only after store owners were told they’d be fined and took to social media and online postings to let customers know that fines were threatened. Other malls around America aren’t reneging.
Two cousins have started a crowdfunding campaign to bring hot coffee to workers staffing stores at Walden Galleria on Thanksgiving. After hearing that locally-owned stores in Walden Galleria could face fines if they don’t open on Thanksgiving, Boston copywriter and Buffalo native Laura Masters considered organizing a boycott of the mall, but figured it was a losing battle. Instead, she and cousin Rebecca Masters of Buffalo decided to bring coffee to “fuel our family” of local retail workers, according to the campaign website. Read the rest of this entry »