I thought about closing Vanitasism for a day in protest of Black Friday. But you know what? How about I go the actual opposite route and raise my prices? That's exactly what I did. Sure, closing the store would be a clear statement and show that I want no part of the annual zombie-shopping-extravaganvza. But raising prices is a much more nuanced stance that considers my reality of being a commercial shopping destination and how mindful my customers are when they choose what to purchase.
I don't deny it. I am promoting my products almost daily. I offer goods in exchange for money. And due to the archival nature of my shop, my prices often sit higher than the initial retail prices the products were once sold for by official vendors. Some may think I'm overpriced and greedy, but that couldn't be further removed from the truth. I operate in a tiny niche. Most of my items are very rare and old. I go to great lengths to find them in good conditions at a reasonable price, so I can offer them at a realistic mark-up. The time, effort and care I put into my selection is reflected in the final price.
To be honest, some of the items are worth more than what I'm selling them for. But as a small business I have to adjust to make any money at all. While many are interested in the subject matter I'm dealing with, how many do you think are actually looking to buy an expensive magazine that is almost 20 years old? You're right: very few. My target audience at this point is very dedicated and involved in the community, but also very hard to reach. When they buy, they buy fully aware of what it is they're consuming.
So what should we do to reach them? Promotions? Sales? Giveaways? Yes, yes and yes, all very valid methods. So why be opposed to Black Friday you ask? Well, let's get to the point we're trying to make. On Black Friday people tend to buy because it's cheap, not because what they actually want or need is cheap. They check the Black Friday sales, not their needed item to see if it is on sale. Because of the low prices non-factors suddenly become needs. Suddenly we need a second TV, suddenly we need three new pairs of jeans. And when all the dust settles, we realize we didn't need anything at all. Just like zombies who attack regardless of whether they're hungry or not. Let's not start on the waste that results as a direct consequence of Black Friday and the damage it does to the environment.
That's why we raised our prices for Black Weekend. All of our items now cost 10€ more than they did before. It won't break the bank, but requires just a little more consciousness in choosing what to buy or if you should buy at all. We will then donate the extra 10€ of each item to Islamic Relief to directly help the people of Yemen during what is described as the world's worst humanitarian crisis.
The list of negative effects that stem from Black Friday is long and I don't want go into great detail here. Let us learn from our own mistakes instead and move forward. If you really need something that is on sale this weekend and have waited for it, by all means go ahead. This might be your best chance to get a good deal. But when you're sidetracked by other products while browsing, we encourage you to think twice before purchasing.