Just a few years ago, a department store had no reason to announce that it would be closed for Thanksgiving.
What used to be a given is now a reason to alert the media.
Kmart, Target, Walmart, Target, Toys R Us and Best Buy are among the national retailers planning to open Thanksgiving day or night.
Jim von Maur, president of Von Maur, an upscale department store with a location at The Greene in Beavercreek, told me the trend intended to capitalize on Black Friday shoppers’ lust for bargains is dangerous. Twenty-four hours a day shopping and consuming, 365 days a year shouldn’t be the goal, he said.
“It is important that we keep a balance in life,” he said.”Opening at midnight on Black Friday (is one thing). To be open the evening of Thanksgiving I’m thinking is pushing it too far.”
Founded 140 years ago, Von Maur operates 29 stores and employees 5,500 people in 13 states. Its stores are scheduled to open at 9 a.m., an hour earlier than normal, on Black Friday.
Von Maur has never and will never open on Thanksgiving Day, von Maur said.
“We value the importance of our associates getting the holidays off, whether they spend quality time with their families or do something else,” he said. “It is meant to be a time when everyone stops and give thanks.”
Von Maur doubted that the stores will be operated solely by volunteers, as some chains have claimed would happen.
He said shoppers can decide to stay home on Thanksgiving.
“It not a choice for the associates that have to work in these stores,” von Maur said. “It is too bad that they are forced to do that.”
Other department-store retailers, however, have done an about-face on the whole Thanksgiving hours debate.
Last November, just before Thanksgiving, Ron Johnson, who was then the CEO of J.C. Penney, sent a “personal” email to customers loudly and proudly proclaiming that the retailer would not – absolutely not – open on Thanksgiving Day, despite the fact that many of his competitors were.
“Spending Thanksgiving with family is one of America’s greatest traditions,” Johnson wrote. “Since JCP was founded on the Golden Rule, I’m proud to honor this tradition by keeping our stores closed on this special day. I hope our customers and employees all enjoy a wonderful holiday with loved ones.”
Throngs shopped at Penney’s competitors on Thanksgiving evening. A few months later, Johnson was sacked as CEO. And this year, J.C. Penney loudly and proudly announced it will open the majority of its 1,100 stores at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day.
Von Maur was emphatic his company would not open on Thanksgiving Day.
The Fourth of July, Labor Day and New Year’s Day are also off the table, he said.
Opening on Thanksgiving dilutes the holiday, von Maur said.
“We should really think hard about if we want to go down that road,” he said.
By Amelia Robinson - Dayton Daily News, Ohio - (MCT) Reporter Mark Fisher contributed to this post.
©2013 the Dayton Daily News (Dayton, Ohio)
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