The Great Black Friday Debate

What began as a quiet work lunch in downtown Cincinnati—replete with french fries and small talk—soon became the Great Debate of 2016 as soon as the words “Black Friday” were mentioned.

For Cladwell’s developer Robin, Black Friday means:

“Excitement, energy, people! There's nowhere better to do people watching than Black Friday in a New Jersey mall. Black Friday is definitely my favorite fall holiday.”

On the other hand, our designer Alison sees the day as synonymous with:

“Unnecessary chaos. Destructive consumerism. And the epitome of my least favorite parts about the holiday season.”

So what do we have here? Two people, both with an education in design and a commitment to the idea that it's not about getting more, it's about getting smarter with what we have. Yet, two incredibly differing opinions.

Americans spent over 2.4 billion dollars in stores last Black Friday. So, let’s face it, some will boycott this Black Friday, and some will consider it a “holiday." Like politics, it's a topic we all seem to have an opinion on. Here's the debate Robin and Alison had.

**Note the smiling faces. No french fries were thrown or co-workers harmed during this debate.

**Note the smiling faces. No french fries were thrown or co-workers harmed during this debate.

Robin vs. Alison: The Great Black Friday Debate

What have been your experiences with Black Friday Shopping?

Robin: "I don't usually buy a lot during Black Friday. A lot of mall stores I like don't actually give great deals that day. I go because it’s really fun bonding time with my family. We stay up all night and hang out with a bunch of crazy people. It's the one time a year I get to shop with my mom and my sister. I don't get to go home a lot, and Black Friday has become a female bonding tradition in my household."

Alison: "I've never gone shopping on Black Friday, so instead I've just experienced it through the terrible news stories that come about the next day. "Two people dead after Best Buy stampede!" Like, WHAT??? 

So no Black Fridays for me; instead, I experienced them through my mother. Now that the kids are grown she tends to stay home, but she used to wake up at the crack of dawn to partake. I just remember that I used to be a bit sad about that. The holidays are one of the few times that all my siblings come home, and we have the entire family under the same roof. With mom out of the house all day, Friday felt like a missed opportunity for all of us to be together during one of those few days that we had."

What’s your biggest problem with Black Friday and why?

Robin: "I don't really have problems with Black Friday. I realize I would probably feel differently if I were working retail. I definitely don't love standing in the long lines, especially when you only want to purchase one or a small handful of things. I view these long lines as opportunities for retailers to innovate and do something creative, which they don't really do, but I think we could see some cool experiences there one day."


Alison: "The Friday after Thanksgiving is a free day! No work, no doctor's appointments, no meetings. Total free day. You bet your ass I'm not even going to think about spending those free hours in an overcrowded shopping mall surrounded by hundreds of strangers I've never met—eventually emerging hours later with fifty new purchases I didn't even know I wanted. No chance.

Instead, I'm going to spend that afternoon taking my sister to lunch. Or visiting with my aunt I haven't seen in three years. Getting coffee with my best friend so she can catch me up on married life and the children they're planning for. Or maybe even taking a "me" day! But at the spa, alone, with relaxing music, and a glass of wine in hand. To me, that's what the holidays are really about! Not the wine, entirely... but family and friends. Having laughs and making memories. Enjoying time together and being thankful that I have a roof over my head, a table full of food in front of me, and a group of people surrounding me whom I care about."

What’s the best part of Black Friday and why?

Robin: "The best part is really just getting to stay up all night with people I love. We always have a blast. I also just enjoy shopping, seeing what’s new and feeling the textiles and seeing what other people are wearing. It's just an exciting night. So many people are out in the middle of the night. And you know what to expect—I even enjoy the challenge of finding great parking (which I always do). It's not for everyone, but I love it."

Alison: "not applicable..."

So, Alison and Robin may (ok, let's be honest...will!) never agree on this topic. But, there's something they can agree on. The holidays are about spending time with family and loved ones, and Black Friday shouldn't get in the way of that.

We here at Cladwell believe that happiness doesn't come from clothes or shopping but from meaningful experiences and relationships. Having a finish line for your closet frees you from an endless cycle of shopping. We want you to take the time for more important things. Things that don't take up space in your dresser drawers. Things that really matter.

But heck, if you want to go join in the hustle and bustle of Black Friday, knock yourself out. Robin will be there. But if a day at the spa or one spent with the family sounds better, do it. That's Alison's plan. The point is, whatever you do this Friday, do it because it matters to you, not because you feel like you have to. This Black Friday, you run the show. Don't let the panic of a "good deal" run it for you.


Yes, so-and-so absolutely needs to see this article. Yes, you should share it. Yes, with everyone.