The Friday after Thanksgiving, stores will have major sales, and customers will flock to them in droves. The annual festival of consumerism known as "Black Friday" encourages ravenous, binge shopping with an enthusiasm that rivals our voraciousness for stuffing and turkey on Thanksgiving itself.
But if "mindful" shopping and a disdain for excess are a part of a brand’s DNA, engaging in such frenzied consumerism by discounting products may seem off-brand (despite the added sales it could bring). The solution at sustainably minded lifestyle brand Holstee, known for its T-shirts and wallets, was to put the shutters on its online shop for the day last year—a rejection of Black Friday altogether.
But this year, according to Holstee co-founder Michael Radparvar, the company elected to create something participatory, by renaming Friday, November 23, as "Block Friday," a day to "block off" for something meaningful, whether it’s hanging out with friends and family or being outside. "The goal is to get as many people as possible to consider one question: ‘This Thanksgiving, what are you blocking Friday for?’" says Radparvar, who plans to use the day to see old friends in his hometown of Providence, Rhode Island. "There’s no wrong answer."
The initiative has received organizational support from the Center for Social Innovation and the Sandbox Network, as well as marketing expert Seth Godin, who suggests that people "find someone you love and give them a hug" in a YouTube video he recorded for the project.
Holstee asks that participants post their plans for Block Friday on YouTube and Twitter with the hashtag #blockfriday and #holstee to add their declarations to Holstee’s digital archive.