November 26, 2014, - 4:29 pm

OUTRAGE: Stores Fined for Not Opening on Thanksgiving

By Debbie Schlussel

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.

“We need to support our fellow Buffalonians now and be a beacon, illuminating some cheer in what could be a seriously long, difficult day,” the site says. The campaign on Indiegogo, called “Coffee and Cheer on Thanksgiving,” has raised $290 of its $3,000 goal. Supplies of coffee will go first to workers at locally-owned businesses and kiosks, then to small chain stores and larger chain stores as long as supplies last.

Many locally owned stores have said it doesn’t make sense for them to open on Thanksgiving because they don’t get as much traffic as the big boxes. But a provision in Walden Galleria stores’ leases leaves them open to fines if they don’t open – fines that are a heavier burden on smaller stores with limited resources. “We thought this is our opportunity to do something really nice, to show employees who are stuck working that they aren’t alone, there are people thinking about them too,” Laura Masters said.

It’s more than a month until Christmas, and, already, the Grinch is stealing it.

Happy Black Thursday Thanksgiving.

8 Responses

The amazing thing is that the employers are not even behind this push. Frankly, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are often big losers for retailers, due to the heavy discounting needed to attract shoppers.

Worry on November 26, 2014 at 5:15 pm

I don’t agree with Debbie on this one.

Of course independent business owners have a right to be closed whenever they feel like it, but when they sign a lease inside of a mall, they’re getting the advantage of the mall’s marketing, location, parking, restrooms, handicap access and other amenities and benefits of a mall.

Shoppers don’t make a trip to the mall during its business hours only to find it peppered with some stores closed or not having the same hours as the mall itself.

If they don’t like the lease, let them rent in a strip mall or some free-standing place.

DS_ROCKS on November 26, 2014 at 6:13 pm

Somebody is always finding a reason or making an excuse to take somebody else’s money. They’ll tax you for getting a health plan and they’ll tax you for not getting one. They’ll fine you for staying open to late and fine you for not opening at all. My solution to a merchant who is being threated with fines for closing on Thanksgiving is to put some big, bright signs advertising that for Thanksgiving Day only, priced are being tripled, thereby fining any customers who feel compelled to shop at that store on Thanksgiving.

Ralph Adamo on November 27, 2014 at 12:35 am

    Dat’s racist!

    Tribuckeye on November 27, 2014 at 10:22 am

    Bob Dylan was writing a double entendre about marijuana, but he was unintentionally correct when he sang (if you can call his vocal style singing), “they stone you when you’re trying to be so good”. Everybody IS getting stoned today, but in the Historical/Biblical sense.

    Bob Dylan Was Right! on November 27, 2015 at 3:00 pm

Mr. Adamo brings up an interesting and age old human dilemma.

Damned if you do, and . . .

damned if you don’t.

The only way to end one’s troubles is to die.

When the general population has been placed by those in power in a daily and perpetual state based on that old saying, . . .

it’s over. Anyone think America still has . . .


Happy Thanksgiving, y’all.

Alfredo from Puerto Rico on November 27, 2014 at 1:22 am

Obviously, all these malls are owned by greedy, capitalists who care nothing for the proletariat workers. Certainly, any mall owned by a liberal, who always puts the welfare of the workers ahead of profits, would keep their mall closed on Thanksgiving. On the other hand, seeing as the Pilgrims were bloodthirsty imperialists, who brought disease and death to this continent, liberals would be hypocritical to even acknowledge the holiday………..especially since the Pilgrims were Christians.

Tribuckeye on November 27, 2014 at 10:20 am

My son reported that his co-worker was one of those people who camped out for days in front of a Best Buy, hoping for one of those TV deals. She reported that about 20 people cut in front of her right before the store opened at midnite. She did not get a TV deal as only the first few customers did. Just one more reason not to line up, what a waste of time. On the other hand my son did work his first graveyard shift and earned some work experience.

Dave on December 1, 2014 at 3:36 pm

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