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November 30, 2001 - Image 12

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2001-11-30

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12 - The Michigan Daily - Friday, November 30, 2001



the cot
doing v
The las
have b

By David Enders
Daily News Editor
Despite the current recession, Rhonda
Gilpin is planning for a happy holiday
Gilpin, the owner of Caravan Gifts and The
Arcadian Antiques in Nickels Arcade, said the
holiday season constitutes about 30 percent of
her yearly sales at the Arca-
s the board dian and between 35 percent
and 40 percent of her busi-
mpaany's ness at the gift shop. She said
both businesses experienced
very well. heavier volume on the Friday
after Thanksgiving than they
St months did last year.
"I have far more invento-
een strong." ry than last year," Gilpin
said. "You're still going to
- Richard Baadsgaard go out and buy your mom
Urban Outfitters and dad a present."
Gilpin also said the months
leading up to the last Friday (traditionally the
biggest shopping day of year) have been compa-
rable to last years, especially on weekends when
the Michigan football team played at home.
The recession "hasn't seemed to stop the buy-
ing," Gilpin said. She added that she recorded
one of her best business years in 1991, the last
recorded recession in the United States.
Next door at Barclay's, an art shop, manag-
er David Foerster had similar sentiments.
"Business has been really good the past few
weeks; it was down in March and through the
end of the summer, but even then not signifi-
cantly," he said. "The Friday after Thanksgiv-
ing was better than last year. I'm expecting
(the holidays) to be as good."
"Business was definitely up for us" the day
after Thanksgiving, said Richard Baadsgaard,
visual merchandiser at Urban Outfitters on
4 State Street.
"So far indications (for the holiday season)
have been good - we had a lot of families
coming in from the suburbs," he said. "Across
the board, the company's doing very well," he
said. "The last months have been strong."

rorist attacks, it's people's duty to go out and
spend," Crary said. "For those who are paid at
an hourly rate and still have their jobs, many
are working less overtime than they have in
years past, so their income isn't as healthy as
it might have been in other years."
Reports of normal and better than average
shopping the day after Thanksgiving may not
be the best indicators either.
"I think it might be a little early to tell.
There's a big focus on the days after Thanks-
giving, but then I think things die down and
folks wait until a little closer to the holidays,
and this year we have the longest stretch
between Christmas and Thanksgiving," Crary
said. "I think those results aren't as definitive."
Recent tax cuts may also have an effect.
"Part of what happens is that in addition to
getting less demand for things, you get compa-
nies trying to get their inventories back with
lower levels. There's a lot of stimulus in the
pipeline, with lower interest rates - the housing
industry is going very well right now, and that's
attributed to the lower interest rates. There's also
a lot of government stimulus. ... The Bush tax
plan that was signed last year, and some addi-
tional tax cuts they hope to have completed
before congress leaves for the holidays," she
said. "Plus, we've had very low energy prices
from a year ago, that improves people's outlook."
Consumers in the Ann Arbor area are not
necessarily an accurate barometer either.
"I think that they're less cyclically sensitive
- there are many parts of this state that are
heavily dependent on the auto industry, and of
course as the auto industry goers through these
cycles, those places are more likely to be harder
hit, less likely in Ann Arbor," Crary said.
The other side of the coin
A growing number of people are shying
away from holiday shopping not because they
have less money to spend but because they
are taking a stand against the commercialism
of the season.
More than a million people in 55 countries
participated in Buy Nothing Day, an annual
boycott of shopping on the day after Thanks-
giving sponsored by the Media Foundation of
Vancouver, British Columbia.
Last year, RC freshman Emily Bate passed
out flyers advocating Buy Nothing Day at a
mall near her home in Holly the day after
"We didn't get to stay long, because obvi-
ously it's not in the mall's best interest -
mall security escorted us out," she said.
This year Bate stayed home with family, but
said the sign she put up one the door of her
room in East Quad Residence Hall the week
before Thanksgiving drew some attention.
"Most of the people who saw it were curi-
ous about it, but one person wrote on my
door, 'Buy Nothing Day, destroy the econo-
my,"' Bate said.
Bate also has a different interpretation of
Bush and Blair's call to shop.
"I think that when they say, we have to
return to our normal life they mean by that we
have to return to meaningful human interac-
tion and critique of consumerism," she said.
"When the president says we can attack ter-
rorism by buying more SUVs that will use
more fuel that comes from the Middle East, it
seems like its more a statement made not of
any real belief that it is the right thing to do
but out of this sort of symbiotic relationship
that the government has with corporations....
That's really not what's about. It's'about get-
ting together with family, and that really
doesn't have anything to do with the rampant
commercialism in my mind. I'd rather cook
dinner with my mom than worry about
whether she' going to return the gift I got
her. I think a lot of people are getting sick of
it, but they're still repeating the same cycle."

Chang said. "You set this day aside to realize
how much more there is to life. ... We went to
a couple shows that night, and the bands
didn't charge us because they knew we were
celebrating Buy Nothing Day.
"Don't spend money on people, spend time
on people - it's a gift," Chang said.
Chang said patriotic sentiment in the wake of
Sept. I1 made her more cautious about her
"It does bring it closer to home when there
are people getting laid off," she said. "It
makes it more hostile. We put up flyers in the
mall ... but when you see so many American
flags up, it's hard. Either you're waving an
American flag or you're waving a bomb."
Kalle Lasn, Media Foundation founder and
editor of the magazine Adbusters, said the
group was uncertain about how heavily to
promote Buy Nothing Day after Sept. 11, but
that leaders urging people to shop steeled
their resolve.
"When they started saying we can win the
war against terrorism by saying we can go out
and consume, people started getting angry,"
Lasn said. "Consumption is not a way to win
a war that may have been caused by overcon-
sumption. One of the reasons for the Sept. 11
tragedy may be the gross inequity between
the First and Third world.
"The people of the so-called Third World are
really, really suffering ... and that suffering
breeds people like Osama bin Laden," Lasn
said. "The First World consumes 86 percent of
the resources, the Third World 14 percent."
Besides abstaining from shopping, people
committed acts Lasn calls "culture jamming."
Last year, more than 10,000 people commit-
ted jamming pranks ranging from graffito-
tagging corporate billboards to passing out
Adbusters gift vouchers in malls. A similar
number did the same this year. Others
marched through malls across the country
calling both for an end to the war in
Afghanistan and abstention from shopping.
"We ourselves at Adbusters don't actually
destroy property, and yet I have-always said that
in any full spectrum activist movement, there are
people who will engage in civil disobedience.
When it comes to violence against property, I
kind of condone it. If I get caught, I am ready to
go to jail. No movement in the history of the
world has made it without a little civil disobedi-
ence," Lasn said. "For 20 people to walk into a
mall and have pinned onto their shirts the words
'Peace Works' and to have on the other side of
the shirt 'Buy Nothing,' that works in the middle
of a war on terrorism, and it works a hell of a lot
better than destroying property."
Lasn said he hopes Buy Nothing Day will
extend into the rest of the season.
"We're talking about buy nothing Christmas,
and we dlon't take that totally seriously - but
going against what our leaders are trying to do,
I think this is the ultimate patriotic act. The

way to win the war is not to consume, and to
look at this war in a totally different way."
The Buy Nothing Day campaign, which began
in 1993, has received increased attention because
of the Internet, but Lasn has had trouble publiciz-
ing it nationally. CNN is the only television net-
work that has allowed the Media Foundation to
buy commercial time, and Lasn said the group is
working on a lawsuit to force other major net-
works to air their ads. He also working on push-
ing the magazine, which has a circulation of
nearly 100,000, into global circulation.
"Our ultimate goal is to create cognitive dis-
sonance, and out of that cognitive dissonance
flows epiphanies," Lasn said. "We the people of
the First World are caught in a kind of consumer
trance, and I think the most important thing to
do is to break people out of that trance."
The foundation's ad that ran on CNN last
week, featuring a globe with a pig crammed
snugly into the North American continent, was
met with support and outrage.
"It is absolutely polarized - we have some
people phoning us up and saying 'I've never seen
anything that wonderful on television,' and we
have some people phoning up and saying 'why
don't you go back to where you came from?"'
Lasn said the urge to shop is like any other

"Many of them find that
very difficult, like giving up
smoking - the ones that
make it through, they feel
wonderful," he said. "When
I was younger I used to stress
out and max out my credit
cards ... Christmas has been
hijacked, and I don't want
anything more to do with it."
Those who start small with

"We the people of
the First World are
caught in a kind of
consumer trance"
- Kalle Lasn
Editor of Adbusters Magazine

"No one k
how the ef
Sept. 11 a
to impact

The wild card
But not everyone is expecting such heavy
holiday shopping.
"I think the consensus out there is that it's
likely to be a relatively weak holiday season -
people tend to be less willing to spend their
money when their worried about their job," said
University economist Joan Crary.
"With all the rises in the unemployment
rate that were reported ear-
nows lier this month, I think peo-
ple are more cautious this
ffects of year," Crary said. They're
asking questions such as:
re going "Is the war going to go
smoothly? Are there going
holiday to be more attacks? The
general level of uncertainty
makes consumers more cau-
- Joan Crary "No one knows how the
ersity economist effects.of September 11 are
going to impact holiday
spending - I think that's a real wild card,"
she said.
Besides consumer uncertainty and caution,
the other likely situation is that Sept. 11 will

something like Buy Nothing Day tend to ques-
tion their buying further, Lasn said.
"They also change their style of consumption
- they want to stop consuming at Walmarts
and megamalls and they want to start consum-
ing at local stores and in the community. In the
long run, I think that local stores will come out
That would please Ellie Serras, events coordi-
nator for the Main Street Area Association.
"The businesses did well over the last week-
end and they expect strong holiday numbers,"
Serras said. She said she expects a strong show-
ing for local businesses because consumers "are
more in tune to what is happening in the world
and they are more likely to support single-
owner business because these are the people
who give back to the community.
"It was slow the month of September, but it's
been picking up steadily since," Serras said.
"Ann Arbor is a great city because we're almost
recession-proof with the University here."



spur a need for buying.
"It's the home and hearth sort of thing -
you've probably seen the same anecdotal sto-
ries I've seen - 'I want my family to know
I'm thinking about them, so I'm going to
spend a little more this year,"' Crary said.
She also said it is unclear what effect the
urgings of leaders like President Bush and
British Prime Minister Tony Blair to con-
sumers to stimulate each country's economy



r .im

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