Home > #OWS > Anti-black Friday ideas? (#OWS)

Anti-black Friday ideas? (#OWS)

November 12, 2012

I’m trying to put together a post with good suggestions for what to do on Black Friday that would not include standing in line waiting for stores to open.

Speaking as a mother of 3 smallish kids, I don’t get the present-buying frenzy thing, and it honestly seems as bad as any other addiction this country has gotten itself into. In my opinion, we’d all be better off if pot were legalized country-wide but certain categories of plastic purchases were legal only through doctor’s orders.

One idea I had: instead of buying things your family and loved ones don’t need, help people get out of debt by donating to the Rolling Jubilee. I discussed this yesterday in the #OWS Alternative Banking meeting, it’s an awesome project.

Unfortunately you can’t choose whose debt you’re buying (yet) or even what kind of debt (medical or credit card etc.) but it still is an act of kindness and generosity (towards a stranger).

It begs the question, though, why can’t we buy the debt of people we know and love and who are in deep debt problems? Why is it that debt collectors can buy this stuff but consumers can’t?

In a certain sense we can buy our own debt, actually, by negotiating directly with debt-collectors when they call us. But if a debt-collector offers to let you pay 70 cents on the dollar, it probably means he or she bought it at 20 cents on the dollar; they pay themselves and their expenses (the daily harassing phone calls) with the margin, plus they buy a bunch of peoples’ debts and only actually successfully scare some of them into paying anything.

Question for readers:

  1. Is there a way to get a reasonable price on someone’s debt, i.e. closer to the 20 cents figure? This may require understanding the consumer debt market really well, which I don’t.
  2. Are there other good alternatives to participating in Black Friday?
Categories: #OWS
  1. November 12, 2012 at 9:15 am

    I’m skeptical that debt collectors can buy carefully targeted debt for a low price: if anyone is seen as trying to buy very specific debt, then presumably that interest alone is a strong indication that the debt is unusually valuable, and it will drive up the price. So my guess is that the only reason the debt collectors get such a low price on distressed debt is because they are doing just mild filtering. However, I don’t have any first-hand knowledge, so I may be totally off base.


  2. November 12, 2012 at 9:51 am

    I think Henry is right. If you want to buy a package of low priced distressed debt just like a debt collector you probably can. Hopefully, they are selling it to the highest bidder rather than to the meanest debt collector. Then you could allow specific debtors to pay it off at the distressed price or cancel it. I doubt you’d get many payments. You might have more luck in getting donations.


  3. Tom
    November 12, 2012 at 11:09 am

    I suggest typesetting the name for your new holiday Anti-(Black Friday) to avoid it being coopted by people with very different aims from yours.


  4. FogOfWar
    November 12, 2012 at 12:42 pm

    From what I understand, factoring defaulted debt is a volume/statistics business. The banks are selling debt that they’ve written down to zero (or close) for accounting purposes, they sell it for, say $0.02 on the dollar and the collection agencies need to make 3 in 100 debtors pay them back in full to make a profit.

    I guess if you made the right contacts the banks really wouldn’t care who pays them the $0.02 on the dollar. It’s $0.02 to the banks either way.

    No, to anticipate your question, I have no idea how to get in touch with someone at a bank who does this kind of stuff. It’s over on the retail side–not my part of the bank, and really about 5 steps removed from what I do…

    The original sponsors of OWS, adbusters.com, have been running “Buy Nothing Day” on the Friday after Thanksgiving for years and years. For those in the NYC area, there are still people in Rockaway, etc. who need help–check out volunteering opportunities with a group.



    • Barbara Schroeder
      November 15, 2012 at 9:00 am

      Thanks for sharing info about the need for help. What can I do?


  5. Michelle
    November 12, 2012 at 1:29 pm

    I always do something fun on Black Friday because nothing is crowded… now that I live in a tropical paradise, that usually means snorkeling or beach. It used to mean mountains and hiking. Anything that’s not shopping and that I really, really feel good about.


  6. November 12, 2012 at 1:30 pm

    Anti- consumption ideas to do on Black Friday:
    – take a hike (in a park, not a parking lot)
    -volunteer (donate your time)
    – make your own holiday presents, cards, or decorations – bonus points if you use found or free cycled objects
    -have a potluck with homemade food
    -hang out with friends or your family doing any of the above


  7. November 12, 2012 at 1:36 pm

    WalMart workers are planning a walkout on Black Friday. If there are WalMart workers striking in your area you could support the picket with food, gifts, etc.


  8. November 12, 2012 at 3:17 pm

    Looking for an anti-black Friday idea? From the same folks that came up with the idea of Occupy Wall Street, it’s Buy Nothing Day – https://www.adbusters.org/campaigns/bnd


    • Barbara Schroeder
      November 15, 2012 at 8:56 am

      Brilliant! Buy nothing Day.


  9. Suzy Creamcheeze
    November 12, 2012 at 4:34 pm

    Addictions, including shopping addictions can be hard to cold-turkey, but an alternative is to ONLY shop at Thrift stores, Used-book stores, Habitat stores, and small, independent, local stores. Avoid shopping at big-box stores, national chain stores, and any stores owned by large corporations, or banks that are too big to fail.


  10. November 16, 2012 at 11:14 am

    I find being oblivious and doing whatever I normally do works pretty well.


  11. Emily
    November 20, 2012 at 8:25 pm

    May I suggest that you shop local, specialty, and within “normal” business hours instead. I’m in specialty retail and I refuse to participate in the awfulness that is Black Friday. Support a local small business instead. Your purchases will go back to your community and you’ll most likey get better service and higher quality product.


  12. ria
    November 21, 2012 at 1:19 pm

    I’d love for 5-6 of us to sit at Union Square in front of Macys and sit and meditate. Perhaps passer bys will take a notice and ponder. Anyone in ? Friday 2-3 hours.


  13. william
    November 23, 2012 at 8:26 am

    View massage youtube videos and spend the day in bed with a friend working on each other. Cuddle. Have some leftover turkey. Sleep.


  1. November 21, 2012 at 10:29 am
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