This year’s holiday season is going to be very different from what we are used to, given the unusual circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic. Normally we would be preparing for the winter holidays starting with some well-deserved time off for family gatherings at Thanksgiving. But with social distancing so important to our health, many families are planning smaller more local activities rather than travel or entertaining out-of-town guests. Our office will be closed on Thursday, November 26, and, as we have been doing for several years now, we will have a small crew working on Friday the 27th.
The Friday after Thanksgiving is when retailers expect to replace the red ink in their books with black, hence the name Black Friday. As it is the first day after the last major holiday before Christmas, it marks the unofficial beginning of the Christmas shopping season. Many non-retail employers give their workers the day off as part of the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. In order to take advantage of this, just about all retailers in the country, large and small, offer various sales and promotions to bring in shoppers. Recent years have seen retailers extend beyond normal hours in order to maintain an edge or to simply keep up with the competition. Such hours may include opening as early as 6:00 am or even midnight on Thanksgiving, so they can bring in as many shoppers as possible.
Indiana is one of the twenty-four states that have made “The Day after Thanksgiving” an official holiday for public employees. That day off work usually takes the place of October 12, when state government offices remain open. This year, as we have done every year since 2007, the Wayne Township trustee office will open its doors on “Black Friday” to be available for emergency needs. We don’t make appointments that day as we work with just a skeleton crew of department directors. Trustee Knox, like Trustee Stevenson before him, thinks it important that our office not be closed for two days in a row. So if you or someone you know needs our services that day, we will be here.
The day after Black Friday has come to be known as Small Business Saturday, first observed in the United States in 2010. This informal holiday was designed to encourage holiday shoppers to patronize their small and local ‘brick and mortar’ businesses. The first event was sponsored by American Express in partnership with the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and was promoted in a nationwide radio and TV advertising campaign. Amex bought advertising space on Facebook to be used by its small-merchant account holders. The company also gave rebates to new customers to promote the event. Many local politicians and small business groups in the United States issued proclamations. The movement was a success, and Small Business Saturday has been going ever since.
Patronizing small and local businesses makes a lot of sense, and that is especially true in this year of economic challenges. Living and doing business on a local level is after all what township government and its services are all about. Cities, towns, and townships are the governments closest to the people. As with a locally-owned business, if you have a comment or an idea you can call or visit your local township trustee office and talk to someone person-to-person. Since local governments and local businesses are the most accountable to the people, they are truly motivated to care about what you, the patron, think.