It is not a new concept, nor is it necessarily the big statement that some believe it to be. REI have been ‘boycotting’ Black Friday for the past five years, keeping all of their stores closed on the big day. A day when, in the US, $6.2 billion was brought in in online sales alone in 2018. So, why would they do that? Why would a big company, like REI, close their shops on a day when 35-44 year olds spent, on average, $413 in one weekend? It seems counterproductive, insane even.
REI originally decided to close on Black Friday because of the impact that Black Friday and Thanksgiving sales had on the people who worked in their stores and warehouses. They wanted to instead give all of their staff a day off, paid of course, and encouraged them to spend the day outdoors, the complete opposite of what the 165 million people who shopped over the weekend in 2018 did. Since then, REI has encouraged their employees, and customers, to ‘Opt to Act’ which is a campaign that encourages employees and customers to take simple actions to reduce their environmental impact. They are not alone in this endeavour, Deciem, a boutique of beauty brands, has also decided to boycott Black Friday in the name of the environment and the need to be aware of the bigger impact of individual actions.
However, whilst both of these brands are boycotting Black Friday, and are actively campaigning for awareness around the environmental impact of quick, impulsive, sale-driven purchases, they both still have deals. REI have a 30% off sale for a period of 10 days in November, whilst Deciem are offering a23% discount for the whole month. Whilst this does eradicate the rash decision making element, it does still allow for these large companies to benefit from the ‘Sale Season’, whilst also maintaining the higher moral ground for ‘boycotting’ Black Friday.
In all honesty, I don’t really have a problem with them doing this. Sure, it is a beneficial public stunt for these big companies who, without these Black Friday sales, will still be absolutely fine. In fact, they will probably benefit from not taking part as they are viewed as more ethical as other companies, and ethical shopping is becoming a big, and fashionable, topic.
However, whilst what REI, Deciem and a few other large stores are doing their blackout, this didn’t really impact me until I saw that a six month old start-up has decided to close down their shop for Black Friday. At six months old, this start-up is highly successful, but that does not mean that it is in the clear yet. In fact, 60% of start-ups go under in the first three years. So, this start-up is far from being a large company that can ‘take the hit’ of boycotting Black Friday.
This start-up is called TALA. It is an active and athleisure wear company that create ‘inclusive, on-trend’ products for ‘every body’. It was set up by Grace Beverley and started business just over 6 months ago. Unlike REI and Deciem, TALA doesn’t have the worldwide clout to benefit from making an environmental statement of this size. In fact, they are likely to see no ‘immediate reward’ from this ‘high risk’decision. This means that TALA are doing this for reasons very different to some of the bigger stores. They are doing it because they are a sustainable start-up and they genuinely believe in selling affordable sustainable products at fair prices whilst also maintaining that everyone involved in the process receives fair pay, that there is no compromise on the sustainability and ensuring that they do not add to the climate crisis as so many fast fashion brands do.
TALA announced this decision in a recent Instagram post and even stated that they are ‘willing to take the hit’ if it meant that it would cause some of their consumers and followers to think twice about partaking in Black Friday sales. In their post, they demonstrated that, if a company is able to make 30% discounts on their products, there is a reason. That reason is embedded somewhere in how they run the company, whether its by the amount they pay workers in the chain of manufacturing to selling, or whether it is in compromising the sustainability, or quality, of the products. No matter what the reason is, it demonstrates that these companies could be doing better and should be doing better.
If a start-up company can make this decision to boycott Black Friday, despite the negative repercussions it could have on the monetary side of their business, then big companies should be held accountable for the way they are functioning. TALA is proof that actions mean more than words. TALA is proof that no matter how small you are, you can still endeavour to make a real difference in a world where those who are bigger than you are failing to do so.
So, as the TALA post so eloquently says, think about how and where you are spending your money this Black Friday. Fast Fashion is a massive contributor to global waste and has negative impacts in many socio-environmental ways. Therefore, this Black Friday, I am with TALA when they say it is time to do something about this, it is time to ‘think about what your money is supporting’ and is time to ‘get voting with your money‘ because ‘you don’t need to compromise – you CAN have amazing products that don’t cost the earth and avoid adding to the problems caused by fast fashion’.