What’s the deal? Thoughts on Black Friday

black friday
Hello.  I’m Katy, one of the co-founders of Mimi & Will, and I want to talk to you about Black Friday.  When I lived in America in 1999, I had my purse stolen in a bar on the Upper East Side, the night before Thanksgiving.  Luckily I was a penniless student at the time (and I’d just got a round in), so no major harm done.  I had my Metrocard in my back pocket so I was able to get home, and ironically, my $20 mugger money was safely stashed in my coat pocket, so I had enough cash for the barest of essentials until the banks opened again the following Monday.  This did mean, however, that I missed out on my first chance to experience the cultural phenomenon that is Black Friday.
With internet shopping in its infancy, our local mall opened its doors at 6am to herald the start of the Christmas shopping season.  In a way, I admired the restraint shown by retailers in the US,  and the clear delineation in the promotional calendar.  After all, I’d spent the last few weeks in August before I left the UK stacking shelves in a supermarket with selection boxes.
Fast forward to 2015, and restraint is not a word you can associate with Black Friday.  With the advent and embracing of shopping online, the 6am opening stopped being enough.  The pressure for: Bigger deals!  Instant access!  Unmissable savings!  Time-limited price slash!  has intensified year on year.  The fact that Wikipedia needs a Violence and Chaos sub-heading on its Black Friday entry should be enough to give any shopper or retailer pause.
So Jo and I were delighted when our stockist, The Lost Lanes, decided to take an alternative approach.  This year on Black Friday they’ll be giving all profits to the Starlight Children’s Foundation.  You can find out more by reading founder Raquel’s excellent blog post, and shop here on Friday (or any time) to show your support.  Of course, while our stockists are fully prepared for the rush over the next few weeks, we are treating the festive season as a marathon, not a sprint.  We’d love for you to be able to shop peacefully, at your leisure, knowing that you can buy once, and buy well, and not kicking yourself because you missed a one-hour-only-never-to-be-repeated flash discount.
Let’s make this season about the real joy of giving, and remember that everyone involved in our production chain deserves the fair reward we give them for contributing to our product.  That’s not to say we’ll never run discounts, but we’d like to do it when it makes good business sense for us to do so, not because we feel we ‘have to’.  We already know we can’t compete with a £2.50 supermarket t-shirt, but we don’t want to, we like the fact that what we do supports the UK creative industries, and supports the use of fair labour overseas.  We know that you want the option of better quality, more ethically-produced and well-designed choices for your children, and that’s what we can provide.  We work hard to ensure that such a high quality product comes in at a realistic and fair price point, and we’ve done exceptionally well to freeze the price of our t-shirts for the last two years without compromising on quality or our values.
We’re really heartened to see that this is a stance more and more independent retailers and designers are taking.  We were thrilled to see this blog post from Laura Spring and Hilary Grant yesterday.  There’s a discussion on Twitter this evening for Folksy sellers about their views on handmade and deep discounting practice – check the hashtag #folksyhour to see what others are thinking and saying.  We’ll keep this post updated if we hear of any more, and do let us know in the comments if you’re hearing similar messages from more of your favourite brands.