Chris Meadows wrote about Black Friday the same day my local paper ran a commentary in the vein of “doth protest too much” about how excited Canadian retailers are for Black Friday. Really they are, it’s not dead yet…
BF’s decline is partly due to the ease of online shopping. Many shoppers feel the same way as Chris’s parents. He says they hate fighting crowds and haven’t “set foot in a store on Black Friday in a good many years.” But effortless click-and-buy isn’t the only reason. More than a few space-crimped people are revolting against “too much stuff.”
My dad just joined Amazon Prime, and he lives right up the street from me. He has cheerfully offered to order anything I want. My baby can’t go on public transit until he has had his immunizations, and I am limited to places I can walk with him, so, of course, the offer appealed to me. Still, my place can hold only so much.
The popularity of Marie Kondo, the decluttering guru based in Japan, where homes are tiny and space is at a premium, is one symptom of this growing sentiment. In my own Canadian city, the average home price now exceeds $500,000. I can’t afford to store a lot of stuff. That was the big hook for me and ebooks—all the books I could possibly want, and they take up no space in my house.
So I have learned to buy less, to want less and to use less. There is something freeing about having less stuff to take care of. And I think that buying what I want, when I want it—sale or no sale—is actually cheaper than going out on a day like Black Friday and buying everything under the sun.
I’m also plugged into some local Mommy groups on Facebook and Kijiji, and the sheer quantity of second-hand goods is mind-boggling. There is so much of it that often you can’t even give it away. We swapped some surplus Lego sets with a woman who was about to leave for Africa with the dentist equivalent of Doctors Without Borders. We got a baby seat, some toys and a box of board books. A week later, she texted me. Her plane was going to depart on Sunday and she will be gone for two years. Her parents have told her she cannot leave her stuff at their house anymore. Can she just give it to us? My husband went back over there and returned with four boxes of clothes, toys and gear.
Our baby is one month old now, and between new-baby gifts and the deluge of second-hand donations (my mother has a lot of friends with grandchildren who have outgrown things), the only non-consumables we actually have bought for our baby have been a few newborn sleepers, when he was born too small to fit the clothes we had already, and…actually, books! I went to the once-a-year library sale with my cousin and found a few picture books for 10 cents each. And while the freebie board books have been plentiful and easy to come by, as a good swap group trading currency, I do shop at times for a specific title. On his first bookstore visit, I plan to buy him The Very Hungry Caterpillar, for instance. It was the first book I ever bought his brother, and I want him to have his own copy.
It’s interesting times for retailers, and if they were smart, they would play to their strengths. A board book for a baby simply can’t be replicated electronically, so I do have some of those sitting on an Amazon wishlist for people who ask me what the baby wants for Christmas. But I continue to read ebooks for myself, and I would never buy new clothes for a child under the age of 3 now that I know I can get very gently used items for free or nearly free. There is just so much stuff out there. It seems almost wrong to waste money and buy it new.