As families around Sonoma County dig in to plump turkeys next Thursday night or relax on their couches with bloated tummies, many retail workers will be heading to work to open stores on Thanksgiving.
The tradition of “Black Friday” sales has creeped earlier and earlier, and this year some chain stores like Kmart and Old Navy will open on Thanksgiving morning, while other big box stores like Macy's, Target and Best Buy will open later that night.
The trend has sparked campaigns on Facebook and other websites where people have decried the end of family traditions, pledged to boycott stores and pleaded with retailers to remain closed for the holiday.
“It was quite the heated dialogue here in our office,” said Veronica King, vice president and Santa Rosa Market Manager for Bank of Marin, whose decision to work in banking was based in part on the ability to get holidays off, after missing family gatherings as a hospitality worker.
“It's a time you don't get back, and you can't make up for it,” King said.
But family traditions take different shapes, and for many, heading out in the wee hours with coffee, credit cards and cousins in tow has become an annual ritual.
“I've done it my whole life; it was a tradition with my family,” said Katie Strickland, 25, who does marketing for a small business in Santa Rosa. “We go to bed early, get up before midnight, and my mom always had hot chocolate and some type of leftovers .... and my dad would take us down and wait in line at the stores with us.”
Even so, Strickland won't show up at any stores before midnight. She loves Black Friday, but doesn't want to take part in what she called “Crazy Thursday.”