Ed Grisamore

Gris: Here’s to ‘Block’ Friday

For the record, I am not a fan of Black Friday.

I can think of 2,487 other things I would rather be doing than standing in a cold, dark line, surrounded by strangers, with the prospect of being trampled after the store’s doors swing open at 6 a.m.

Nope, I am not a fan. I prefer not to ruin the spirit of Christmas, all in the name of saving a hundred bucks on a 40-inch TV I don’t need, full of channels I will never watch.

Come to think of it, I’m not a fan of shopping. Period. No bah humbug about it. I belong to a fraternity of men (we have a secret handshake) who can dash in and out of a store in 15 minutes or less with everything we went in to buy.

For me, the lone exceptions are bookstores (browsing encouraged), antique shops (they qualify as museums) and an occasional yard sale.

My reputation as a “people” person takes a hit when I claim I don’t like crowds, especially those who want to chew me up and spit me out in their pursuit of shoppiness.

Earlier this week, a friend told me she once nearly got into a tug-of-war with another shopper at the height of Black Friday insanity. They reached for the same sleeve of the same garment at the same time. She quickly threw her hands over her head and never went back.

On the flip side, I have a friend who has been camped out in front of Best Buy since Monday. (And I thought deer hunters were a little crazy.)

Hardcore shopping -- the kind that fosters pre-dawn frenzy over door-buster prices -- requires a different kind of energy and a different set of muscles.

Which is why you will find me at the office this morning, rather than at Office Depot. I do not care to run over people, like Nick Chubb between the tackles, to score a $179.99 laptop computer.

Yes, I will be working today ... twice as hard in the name of capitalism. I have a long-standing rule to stay clear of all malls the day after Thanksgiving and the day after Christmas.

Among my peeves with Black Friday is that it is heavily tilted toward the big boxes and super stores, where you will find the biggest buzz and most outrageous markdowns.

I believe in keeping my money closer to home, supporting smaller businesses whose owners live and work here. They don’t send their profits to some corporate tower. Their brick-and-mortar is flesh-and-blood.

They are loyal to their customers, appreciate my business, read the newspaper I work for, don’t have toll-free numbers and know how to pronounce Pio Nono.

That’s why I propose a “Block Friday’’ instead of a “Black Friday.’’ Please consider becoming a patron at a store on your block, in your neighborhood or in the vicinity of your ZIP code. Adopt a local business and show them some love.

Four years ago, I wrote about the 3/50 Project, a grass-roots campaign started to encourage consumers to split $50 each month among three local businesses in their community.

It could be the hardware store on the corner, the boutique in the village or the sandwich shop downtown.

Organizers of the 3/50 Project estimate that for every $100 that Pam, George, Clay and Hannah spend at locally owned and operated businesses, about $68 comes back in the form of taxes, payroll and other expenditures.

However, if that money is spent with a national chain or online company, significantly less ($43) will find its way home.

I’m not an economist, but a local mindset sounds like the backbone for a stronger local economy.

On your Christmas shopping list, pledge to keep some of your purchases close to the nest. You will be glad you did.

Mom and Pop will thank you for it.

Contact Gris at 744-4275 or egrisamore@macon.com.

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