Everything tagged

Latest from The Spokesman-Review

Local pot shops set plans for ‘Green Friday’

Owners of local marijuana shops hope to cash in on the biggest retail sales day of the year, an event many of the stores are calling "Green Friday."

Though state law dictates when the area's nine retail shops may open their doors (8 a.m.) and how much they can charge for marijuana (stores can't sell pot for less than they paid to acquire it from producers/processors), area store owners say they plan to extend their hours and offer discounts on items including edibles and J.R.R. Tolkein-inspired paraphernalia.

"If you buy a full ounce, we'll give you a free 15-inch Gandalf pipe," said Cristy Aranguiz, lead "budtender" at Cannabis & Glass, a shop that opened earlier this month in north Spokane. The glassware resembles the long pipe smoked by the wizard in Tolkein's classic Lord of the Rings series.

Check out this map of stores, their business hours for Friday and a brief description of the deals they plan to offer customers, and read more about the shops' specific plans inside the blog.

A round-up of petitions against early shopping on Thanksgiving

With Thanksgiving almost here, it's pertinent to think about the consumer reaction to plans by big retailers to open their doors one day before Black Friday.

We found that that Change.org has acted like a gatekeeper, providing links to 63 different no-shop petitions opposing Thanksgiving shopping.

One link that reportedly gathers all those petitions is here.

Several Spokane retailers also made sure they told their customers they're not into business that much; they've all said they won't open until Friday. They're mentioned in this earlier Spokesman.com story.

A recent online blog noted that consumers this year are especially trying to change the practice by stores not normally considered big-box.  More petitions this year, it noted, target more niche stories like office supply retailer, Staples. As a petition-starter puts it: “Do they honestly think people are going to be standing outside on Thanksgiving evening for bulk paper and pencils?”


WA Lege Day 23: Changing Black Friday to red

OLYMPIA – The day after Thanksgiving would no longer be Black Friday or left-over turkey day in Washington state under a proposal approved unanimously Tuesday by a House committee. Instead, it would be the legal holiday dubbed Native American Heritage Day.

The day after Thanksgiving is already one of Washington state’s 10 legal holidays, but the only one without a name of its own. Designating it as Native American Heritage Day would recognize the sacrifices and contributions of the original residents of the nation, John Sirios, chairman of the tribal council for the Colville Confederated Tribes said recently.

It won't cost the state anything, said Rep. John McCoy, D-Tulalip, chairman of the House Community Development and Tribal Affairs Committee and one of only two Native Americans in the Legislature. . . 

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, click here to go inside the blog.

Never On A Sunday


I really hate what the holidays have become - so materialistic.  Everybody's on a shopping frenzy for Christmas presents today (Black Friday) for items that are almost guaranteed to be put in a yard sale next summer, or high up in a closet, or deep in the basement - totally forgotten.  These items never emit the same energy use when they were purchased.

In my lifetime I have seen quiet days with family give way to a frenetic race to nowhere.  I remember when stores - all stores - were closed on Sundays.  My parents both played the Rule of the House card on Sundays - no other people.  No friends.  

I remember when Easter, Christmas, and Thanksgiving were times set aside for quality family time.  There was no Black Friday.   It was family time - even though at major holidays, my Mom would be busy in the kitchen and Dad would hunker down to a football game.   Over the years, I have acquired many presents for family and friend that I store, wrapped, with a journal of what I bought or made and who it was for.  Then at Christmas time, I just enjoyed the caroling, the smells, drives to look at lights.  The Crescent in downtown Spokane had a marvelous turning display of Christmas carolers, Alvin and the Chipmunks, Victorian houses.  That would be part of the route my Dad took to look at lights on Christmas Eve.  It felt magical.

My parents kind of hated the Christmas holidays.  They had little money and we four kids would get one clothes present and one personal present.  This year, I kind of hate Christmas just a little too.  There are two new babies 80 miles away, one son in Arizona and one in Moscow, Idaho.  We'll probably do a lot of baking and send care packages to the sons.  No more little traditions like staying home alone with family.   My sons are building new traditions.

But Black Friday is still abhorrent to me, somehow sacrilegious.  This huge pressure to get lavish presents, and more than one, for each person on your list with no mention of God or Jesus or the Nativity story.  

My humble opinion.


The Grand Experiment…

Good morning, Netizens…


Good morning, Netizens…


Yesterday was an experiment. Shoppers stand in line outside a Best Buy department store before the store's opening at midnight for a Black Friday sale, Thursday, Nov. 22, 2012, in Arlington, Texas. Black Friday, the day when retailers traditionally turn a profit for the year, actually got a jump start this year as many stores opened just as families were finishing up Thanksgiving dinner. Stores are experimenting with ways to compete with online rivals like Amazon.com that can offer holiday shopping deals at any time and on any day.


Was the experiment successful? While consumer demographics are not known at the present time, according to several Big Box stores, shoppers waited in long lines outside stores, such as Best Buy, Sears and various shopping malls just shortly after Thanksgiving Day dinner to grab bargains off the shelves.


Walmart and Best Buy both called this year's Black Friday event its "best ever."

Although my son-in-law and his children hit some of the local mall stores, I did not. As Jeanie stated so eloquently in her post “Never on a Sunday” it is far too materialistic for me.



Black (bag) Friday

I have shopped only once on the day after Thanksgiving – at nine in the morning I ventured out and bought my husband an electric razor, a nice, expensive, razor. He loved it and I vowed “never again” to the shopping day. Instead, I wander around the house with a big, black garbage bag and gather things that can be donated and sometimes (in another black bag) thrown away. I did shop today, though, in my pajamas at the computer. I like to give gifts that benefit the recipient as well as the organization that is the source of the gift. That plan doesn’t always work, but I continue to enjoy this match-making challenge.

I love the saying: “I am not the same having seen the moon shine on another part of the world.” This quote inspired by Mary Anne Rademacher is on ornaments. The profits from the sales benefit a group that supports international adoption. And since our son arrived in our family through that magical path, I buy their ornaments as gifts for friends.

The women’s bean project in Denver sells packages of beans – just add water and a few other ingredients like canned tomatoes and presto! Soup. The profits support women seeking to climb out of poverty, as they learn skills and claim their place in the entrepreneurial world. Mom will receive beans this year.

Some Catholic monks in Oregon make yummy treats to support their monastic community. I think a dose of fudge makes life sweeter and supports a religious community who seeks peace through prayer and simplicity. Their secret is better than Victoria’s.

Today, in many retail locations others were seeking “peace,” too: a piece of a bargain at major stores that opened in the dark, but limited sweet deals. People trampled and punched and screamed and bit and a man in Massachusetts left his car-seated child in the parking lot at 1:30 a.m.so he could buy a television. He will have lots of time to watch the television now that his child is in protective custody.

Many children have no idea about television and simply seek to survive. One of my favorite organizations is Heifer International. I once gave the gift of a goat to a child…not a child I knew but to a child in a developing country so that a family could sustain itself. And the person in whose honor I gave the gift was delighted.

 Making a difference in people’s lives through opportunities means bringing light into darkness. No discounted touch screen gadget offers us a better deal. Happy holy-days.

Walmart and Target workers raising concerns about Thanksgiving sales

So the retail season has a little drama developing this week.
It's the increasing concern by some parts of the business world that stores that open on Thanksgiving are turning into Scrooge, forcing employees to give up one of the entitled holidays most Americans enjoy.

To continue the literary analogy, the players taking the role of Bob Cratchit are employees from Target and Walmart.

Here is a summary of the two similar efforts gaining steam as the Thanksgiving drama unfolds:

Some Walmart workers across the country are considering either striking or takingother actions during Thanksgiving week.

Those workers are predicting as many as 1,000 protests at Walmart stores leading up to Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday. Workers announced upcoming strikes and protests in Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, Milwaukee, Washington, D.C., as well as workers' plans to walk off the job in Oklahoma, Mississippi, Louisiana and Minnesota. 

The Walmart concern goes beyond early shopping. Reports say concerned Walmart workers are protesting poor working conditions, higher benefits costs, efforts to block people of color, and retaliation against workers advocating for changes in these areas. Some also have said the "Black Thanksgiving" early shopping start before Black Friday is disruptive for many families wishing to enjoy the holiday with relatives.

Then there's the ongoing effort by workers to urge Target to change plans to open at 9 p.m. on Thanksgiving eve.

One Target employee, Casey St. Clair, recently delivered more than 350,000 signatures from her Change.org petition to the company's headquarters in Minneapolis. Along with several local Target customers and community faith leaders, St. Clair brought the signatures to the office of Target President & CEO Gregg Steinhafel in several boxes.


The 10 Commandments of Black Friday shopping, developed by Mint.com

Yes, we favor small business and local small shopping over chain shopping.

But since that's not everyone's choice, we'll offer up an infographic produced by Mint that alleges to be the Commandments of Black Friday.

McGregor: Black Thursday?

Thanksgiving continued happily along until the 1960s, when retailers like Macy’s started big sales on the Friday after Thanksgiving. Now, of course, we know it as Black Friday, America’s high holy day of deals. It’s been crowding Thanksgiving ever since. To traditionalists, it’s a heretical invasion of one of the few moments of reflection we have left; to others it’s the perfect celebration of our land of plenty. Can Thanksgiving and Black Friday coexist as two sides of the American coin?/Ted S. McGregor, Inlander. More here.

Question: Is there something hypocritical re: celebrating reflective Thanksgiving on Thursday and then gourging ourselves on gift buying the following day, on Black Friday?

Day after Black Friday is being called Small (is Beautiful) Business Saturday

Expert Author Laurie BrownSmall businesses who are trying to gain advantages during the coming holiday season are being urged to reate a party atmosphere, especially during the Black Friday weekend.

A number of retail experts are making their suggestions known, advising small business owners to think creative, think friendly, think social media this coming season.

The usual suggestions are back:  Offer treats your store would not normally offer customers, such as cookies, hot cider or even a cup of cocoa. Offer free wrapping, or make extra efforts to find an item a customer can't find in one's own store.

Since social is the buzz term, advisers also say use Facebook and Twitter to connect to customers with updates on merchandise, especially including unique items and great deals.

Laurie Brown, considered a "customer service expert," urges small businesses to really push their message to their community.

Brown says Small Business Saturday — a sponsored event that some retailers should become an ongoing effort for the day after Black Friday — is an opportunity to shine, and in doing so making an impression and hopefully a customer, in the local community, for life.

Black Friday in retrospect…

Good morning, Netizens…

Things to consider in retrospect to Black Friday:

Did you go out and shop yourselves insensible on Black Friday? Did you spend yourself into debt without remorse or fear this year? Did you get out of bed at an ungodly hour of the morning to stand in lines outside your favorite store in the hopes of buying a loss-leader item?

Some other things to consider on the day after Black Friday:

Most of the television announcers who are squalling like pigs just before slaughter about the “new resurgence” of shopper confidence have no factual proof of their assertions. Sure, there were huge crowds at various stores throughout the country, lots of pictures of happy shoppers exiting the stores with full shopping baskets and even a few riots from people who tried to jump their place in line. I remember last year, which has to rank high on the ranks of economically dismal Christmas Shopping Seasons when some of the same announcers made some of the same joyous predictions about that Black Friday. So you see, many of the announcers, but perhaps not all, are paid to say good things about Black Friday even in the face of economically-uncertain times. God forbid they should ever report the facts. It might negatively impact the coming Christmas Shopping Season.

If a deal simply sounds too good to be true, the chances nearly always are they are probably bogus and thus not true. One of my favorite tales from last year’s “super sale” on Black Friday at a regional outlet was the laptop computers being offered at what were ostensibly bargain basement prices, so much so I even went to look at them, despite my ambivalence about Black Friday. I didn’t really need a new laptop. My old one, with some enhancements and modifications, does everything I need it to do and more. But I had to look. This new in-the-box laptop included a low-end Intel processor, tons of software junk I didn’t need and a dirt-cheap price below $200. It was a piece of crap I wouldn’t lend to one of my cats and the price wasn’t that good to begin with.

Do NOT feed the landfill. Perhaps to some this might sound altruistic, naive and negative, but stop and think about what you are buying, especially for your children, grandchildren and other young members of your family. What are the odds that the Christmas presents you buy this year for your younger members of the family will end up discarded, not recyclable and thus tossed into the nearest landfill within two years? Five years? It is a difficult decision you have to make as a parent/grandparent/guardian, choosing when that doll or gadget your offspring are screaming about is a piece of plastic junk that will end up useless and discarded within a few years.

So now perhaps you may understand why I avoid the crush of the crowds on Black Friday. Most of the Christmas presents have already been purchased, or at least cleverly planned long before now. With this out of the way, it leaves me and mine expendable time to truly prepare for the mysteries and joys of the true Christmas Season.


Roads, cold don’t deter shoppers

Get Adobe Flash player

Shoppers jammed parking lots from Wandemere to Spokane Valley to North Idaho this morning, ignoring  snowy roads and cold temperatures to buy 46-inch televisions and 700-count sheets.

At the Northpointe shopping Center, Best Buy Manager Keat Shankle estimated as many as 2,000 shoppers had been through the store by 6:20 a.m. A sub-$200 laptop was a big attraction, but discounted Nook e-book readers were also selling well, he said.

Sally Morden emerged from the store with an X-Box and DVDs. She was headed to Target, where husband Duane was still 30 minutes deep in the checkout line.

Asked how much more shopping they had to do, Morden displayed a notebook with three pages of entries. The print was small.

Mallory Arana and her husband, Aristo, left the Sears at the Silver Lake Mall with a full shopping bag this morning. They found slippers for $3.99, blankets for $2 and an $8.99 sweater, normally priced around $60.

The Coeur d’Alene couple, who were shopping for family members, were headed next to Macy’s and Target. Mallory Arana said she’s not an online shopper. After Thanksgiving dinner, they sat down and went through the newspaper inserts to find the best deals.

Black Friday shoppers, we’d like to meet you online specialists

Black Friday is two weeks away. It’s one sure date when otherwise cautious shoppers turn into crazed and dedicated sales-hounds.

We’re looking to find four to five different readers who would take part in a Black Friday study. We want to talk with only those shoppers who will be hunting online for Black Friday sales; if avoiding the street crowds is your thing and hunting online for deals is your goal, you are the person we’re looking for.

We can’t offer compensation. We would intend to talk with you before and after your Black Friday shopping session.

At some point we would possibly use your name in a story published at spokesman.com and in print.

You can post your interest here in the Comments. Or e-mail tomsATspokesman.com. (use @ and not AT)


Might be too late for some of you

But according to Dealnews.com, the easiest way to save money on Black Friday is to stay home and shop online. PC magazine provides a list of the top 6 best Black Friday websites here.

Aside from my Amazon habit, I don’t do much online shopping. Do you have favorite online shopping sites?

Be Careful Out There

In this Nov. 28, 2008, file photo, Nassau County Police examine the front of the Wal-Mart in Valley Stream, N.Y., where a temporary Wal-Mart worker died after  shoppers broke down the doors and trampled him. 

Folks take their Black Friday shopping seriously, and there are some good deals to be found.

But stories like the one below give me pause.

VALLEY STREAM, N.Y. – Victoria Rogers had originally planned to make an early stop the day after Thanksgiving last year at the Wal-Mart store in Valley Stream on Long Island. Her last-minute decision against it might have saved her life.

“We saw the mob, and we said no,” she said. “Wal-Mart’s not the store.”

What she saw that day was no ordinary crowd of shoppers, but a throng police say jammed through the doors upon the store’s opening in a mad dash for holiday savings, trampling a guard to death. More here.

Can you think of any bargain worth waiting in line for hours, and risking life and limb to obtain?

Black Friday comedy

But first, here are some facts about packaging waste you should consider as you begin your holiday shoppping adventures:

* It is estimated that 30 million tons of containers and packaging were recycled in 2005.

* The U.S. EPA estimates about 31 percent of all municipal solid waste in 2005 was generated from packaging related material. This constitutes cardboard boxes, plastics and Styrofoam. This breaks down to about 39 million tons of paper/paperboard, 13.7 million tons of plastics and 10.9 million tons of glass.

* The average growth rate of container and packaging waste through 2010 is estimated to be about 1.8 percent annually.

* About three million tons of Styrofoam, which is often used to package products, was produced in 2000. Out of the three million tons produced, 2.3 million tons was thrown away.

* About three percent of all U.S. energy consumption comes from the production of packaging materials. Using recycled material for the production of packaging goods takes less energy than creating the product from the materials natural state.

* Packaging and containers makes up about 56 percent of all plastic waste. About 75 percent of all of the waste comes from residential households.

Plus, who wants to put somebody through this:

Early morning madness?

Good morning, Netizens…

[Picture credit: KREM-TV]

If you think I am going to drive to my nearest shopping center to capture a live picture of insensibly insane people willing to stand in long lines in the rain for hours, waiting for the doors to open on Black Friday at 5:00 AM, guess again. First, I have a long-term allergy to huge crowds, especially if they are standing in the rain, and second, I have a TV card in my PC that allows me to capture television pictures, which is a valuable tool in this case.

According to KREM-2 TV this morning there were over 400 people standing in a cold rain in front of Target for the doors to open at 5:00 AM. Lines were worse at Best Buy, according to KREM, but the question stands.

It’s raining outside, the temperature hovering near 40 degrees, which is pretty chilly if you are wet to the bone, and all this for what? Were you among the crowds that flocked to the Big Box stores this morning? If so, what was your motivation? Was it worth it? Or did you sit in your chair watching the early morning debacle, amused at the mayhem?

Shopper or no? Which are you?


The magic of Black Friday gets scrutinized…

Good evening, Netizens…


We have until this Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, and there is little more needs to be said than the macabre and often delusional pre-Christmas Shopping Day known as “Black Friday” has already begun a bit earlier than usual and it appears to be lasting several weeks. According to my liege, Jeanie of Spokane, we have only 32 more days before Christmas. To put it more succinctly, merchants and big box stores alike are desperate to steer us all into their stores before then so we’ll be sure to participate in the combination riot, donnybrook, insurrection and various other orgiastically unworthy descriptions of Christmas shopping on Christmas Eve. That was, we get to shop twice as much as if we had waited until just before Christmas to do our shopping, and we still have those nefarious crowds, some who do not bathe often enough and others who trample whoever is ahead of them in line.


Maybe, just maybe if we have a little spare time between now and then, we might actually have some disposable time to remember ourselves and possibly what Christmas is supposed to represent. I went into a pique several years ago when transfixed shoppers back east had what many termed a civil riot over a limited number of Elmo dolls. People were injured, taken to hospitals, while others were arrested for being disorderly. Or how about this YouTube video telling about Cabbage Patch dolls. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Is-e1FX8-D4 or this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y4vmyUb6aTU&NR=1&feature=fvwp


Now let’s wildly speculate for a moment here. How many of either the Cabbage Patch or Tickle Me Elmo dolls are already in the bottom of the nearest solid waste landfill? Anyone care to speculate?



This year we are suffering beneath a fractured economy, with more people unemployed than purportedly anytime since the 80’s. More families are planning to get a free turkey for Thanksgiving Day from KREM-2’s Tom’s Turkey Drive than ever before in the history of this strange sociological event.


Yet the advertisers are saying there is already excitement in the air. Excitement? I submit that what they term to be excitement isn’t that at all. At least among those who remember Thanksgiving Day when it was 100% a family event, and Christmas when it still had some elements of the Birth of Christ attached, I would say rather than excitement, this is much more like sadness. Of course, your results may differ.