America is one of the few nations in the world that sets a day aside just to give thanks, appreciate what we have, and celebrate friends and families. The banks are closed, the post offices are closed, and most businesses are closed. Until now! Within the past few years we are seeing retailers opening for business on Thanksgiving Day! We think this is a disturbing trend that cheapens the meaning of this special holiday.
Thanksgiving is an interfaith, intercultural celebration that binds us together as a nation. It’s a common denominator for all Americans to take a break from our daily lives and celebrate our many blessings in a day of gratitude. It was never meant as a day to compete with crowds to save a few bucks on our Christmas list. What are we supposed to do now? Gulp down the turkey so we don’t miss the sales? After all, the press has been referring to it as “Turkey Day” for years, as if calling it Thanksgiving Day is somehow going to offend someone, or worse, remind us of why we celebrate this holiday in the first place.
Gratitude is the opposite of need. To create a need-oriented motivation to go shopping on Thanksgiving Day is an abomination and certainly counter to the true meaning of the day. Do you really need to go shopping to finish your Christmas list one day earlier? Do you really need to relieve yourself of the anxiety of not having it all done? That’s what these retailers are telling you. Not, “Stay home with your family and celebrate what you have,” but “Come out and shop for what you don’t have.”
This year we even heard of at least one major shopping mall that will actually fine its retail tenants $1000 if they are closed on Thanksgiving! We think, as a nation, we are missing something here. It’s time to rethink what we are becoming. Are we just taking everything we have for granted? Or do we realize that it’s all tenuous and we are fortunate to live in such an incredible country? This is not about religion; it’s about the fabric of America.
We travel quite a bit promoting and teaching what we know about entrepreneurship. Every time we return we are struck by the fantastic wealth of this country. We have infrastructures that works, opportunities to succeed, and a life expectancy most nations envy. When we speak in the schools of entrepreneurship across America, who do we see in the audience? Mostly foreign nationals! Do they know something that we’ve forgotten? Do they appreciate what we take for granted?
That’s why we have a day to just say thanks. Thanks for our health, thanks for our wealth, and thanks for our families. It’s just one day! Shouldn’t it be sacred? Look at Thanksgiving as an insurance policy to protect our respect and appreciation for all we have – and to preserve it through that recognition. Let’s not lose this truly American holiday to need and greed. Let’s preserve our national tradition of love, thoughtful humility, and higher mindfulness – and reject the crass attempts to reduce it to just an excuse for a sale. Let’s keep Black Friday where it belongs, on Friday!
We are thankful that we live in America and are able to communicate our knowledge of brand building to our followers, the next generation of successful entrepreneurs, and we are grateful to have the opportunity to continue to do so. Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!
Who Are We.
Having built and sold a bestselling national brand, we appreciate the value of brands and everything it takes to make them successful. Companies are valued by their brand equity. Achieving and maximizing brand equity requires tremendous respect for all your customers, from your wholesaler to your end user.
Starting in our laundry room with no money and no knowledge of the industry, we built the famous Barefoot Wine brand. We learned a lot they don’t teach in school and much of it the hard way. Although our success was in consumer products, our real world experience will be helpful to anyone looking for information and advice about brands.
We have written the New York Times Bestselling Business Book, The Barefoot Spirit: How Hardship, Hustle and Heart Built America’s #1 Wine Brand, which chronicles the history of the famous brand from its inception through its acquisition. Our book is now required reading in schools of entrepreneurship across the country. We hope this book will provide inspiration and encouragement for all those contemplating starting a brand or wanting to improve their existing brand.
Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey
-Barefoot Wine Founders