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Column: Farewell, retail Thanksgiving

Photo designed by Kyle St. John

For the first time in four years, I will not be spending Thanksgiving behind a counter.

Last year, Hollister closed over 100 of its store locations, including Store #30428 where I worked as a sales associate.

While you might think I’m rejoicing over the ability to spend the holiday with my family, it’s much more bittersweet.

There is a certain bliss that comes with working Thanksgiving into Black Friday.

Are there tons of flustered customers looking for fitting rooms and hundreds of items to be folded and refolded? Of course.

But the time always passes more quickly and best of all, you’re suffering alongside your team.

With Black Friday comes a camaraderie unparalleled by any other day of the year. Every minute, coworkers cheer you on, hype you up and rouse you to success. Black Friday is a retail game, and we all came to win.

On my break, I would meander down to the food court where vendors treated me like a war veteran returning from a hard-fought battle. And in my store, managers provided a smorgasbord of goodies in the break room.

Black Friday and Thanksgiving (Black Friday Eve) always instill a certain holiday magic. Northwoods Mall no longer looks like a dying community staple from a bygone era. During these two days, it is packed to peak capacity with bundled shoppers, adorned with lights and holly and perfumed with the sweet scent of candied nuts.

Even the creepy back hallways are abuzz with joy, as employees rush to their stores out of the purview of shoppers, kicking up dust and trampling over ancient advertisements from stores long since closed.

As a retail worker, I always felt so emboldened during the holiday season. But this year, neither the store nor my Hollister friends will be spending Thanksgiving in the corner next to JCPenney, and no one will be opening the patio doors to the greatest surf shop in Peoria.

If you are a retail worker, I commend you. Enjoy the beautiful misery of Black Friday and don’t forget to appreciate every beautiful, awful second because, believe it or not, you will miss it.

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