Find something to be thankful for...

I’m what you might call, a Best Buy Widow. I know the moment I heard that other stores were opening at 6pm. on Thanksgiving evening, Best Buy would have to join them. Retail analysts are citing this year as a game-changer and Best Buy had to open early to compete. That much, I understood. Yes, we could start a philosophical conversation about how retailers are bullying one another to get earlier sales, but that point is moot. It’s happened and now other retailers need to decide if they’ll join the fray. Menards chose to stay out of the Grey Thursday sales and are planning to add a note to consumers in their Black Friday flyer. I respected Menards’ decision, just as I understood other retailers didn’t have the same opportunity to make that decision.

I’m not much of a Black Friday shopper anymore. I’ve long admitted to my inner seething at the fact that Thanksgiving, (which was once about too much turkey, amazing time with family and memories,) has now become an abomination of what it was. But, I think this year may be the tipping point. Opening times have crept up now to when most are meeting for Thanksgiving dinner. In fact, I don’t know how we’ll celebrate this Holiday as John will probably have to work as his Best Buy store opens at 6pm. I imagined sitting across from my parents and children without him. It might be weird, but this is the life when a member of your family works in retail management.

See, we’re used to this. Last year, he came home an hour and a half late  for Christmas Eve because a guest waited until the night before Christmas to buy a cell phone for her children; she had questions, (a million questions.) It was John, who didn’t want to leave her or her children without their present, so he stayed. At the time, I was livid. Our children were waiting to do presents and go to dinner and he missed part of his first Christmas Eve with Daniel. But in hindsight, I’m grateful for her. She made a decision to shop at a company that provides our meals and insurance. For that, I’m thankful.

It would be easy to roll my eyes and complain that this year, we might not have him around for Thanksgiving. Instead of writing a post lamenting the rise of consumerism, (ad nauseum) and the loss of earlier traditions, I’d like to tell you what Best Buy has done for us.

We have incredible insurance. Insurance that didn’t battle me over not receiving second opinions or not choosing my treatment with Cervical Cancer. In fact, they paid for additional biopsies and specialists during our pregnancy with Danny as we carefully monitored the cancer. They never fought me when I went back to the ER twice after my surgery. Not one word. They said nothing when I asked for the more expensive painkillers. They paid everything, without so much as a peep. Medica, is amazing.

John may work late hours or nights, but he has incredible flexibility. When he needed to take a few extra days off after my hysterectomy, they said, “We hope Kate feels better!” When he asked for a week after Danny’s birth, they sent gifts. When John has needed time to spend with family, or vacations, they’ve worked to create his schedule so he could move his hours and not take unpaid time off. From my H.R. leadership perspective, I think this is a testament to their culture and values.

Yes, Best Buy is working hard to re-establish itself as a power player once again. Of course, they still have a way to go. But have you been in lately? The Richfield location has gorgeous new lighting and lower fixtures. It’s open and airy. I wasn’t immediately halted with a, “Can I help you,” when I walked in the door. It’s changing, slowly but surely, but the market is changing too.

We can sit and lament about the loss of Thanksgiving, or we can support businesses that pay taxes to the State of Minnesota and employ Minnesota workers. The earlier will do far more for our economy, I assure you. Without Best Buy, I’m not sure what might have happened. John works for a company he believes in and as much as I want to be angry that we lose him over a Holiday, the sales of THIS Holiday will truly determine Best Buy’s future. It’s scary forecast if people choose to buy electronics at Walmart or other places. Best Buy is going to prove their worth with a great ad, (or so I’m told) and the same friendly workers.

This is what I’m asking of you: Shop on Black Friday and do it at Minnesota businesses. Support national and local, but go for businesses that need your dollars. Walmart’s ads may be enticing, but they are trading their proverbial soul for your dollars, remember this. To shop at Best Buy, you don’t even have to leave your house. And, if you order something, have it picked up at the Richfield store. John’s the multi-channel supervisor and it’s a job he truly enjoys. Give him a hug for us and tell him we miss him, but we’re grateful. Really.