Spending: Black Friday edition

"Buy more stuff": Is that the message? Who is the sponsor?

Crosscut archive image.

In front of the Nordstrom store downtown on Friday.

"Buy more stuff": Is that the message? Who is the sponsor?

Were you downtown for Black Friday? Light rain, relatively light crowds mid-afternoon. Did you see the "protestors"? The ones in suits holding black-and-white signs? Wait, they're not protesting at all. The signs read "BUY MORE STUFF." If you ask what's going on, the gent hands you a postcard that says, "Buy More Stuff" on one side, and "Hurry" on the other.

Not your conventional anti-capitalist rant. Most passersby don't quite get it, can't figure it out. The bicycle cops look on, bored. It's the fifth year they've done this, the BuyMoreStuff.org folks, recruiting new participants and raising money for fresh signs on Facebook. It's inspired street theater, of course, performance art. The interactions with shoppers are dead serious, all in character. "Hurry, or they'll run out of stuff."

Last year, there was even a piece on Huffington Post that quoted the event's co-founder: "It's interesting: Americans in particular are hyper-attuned to advertising and marketing, which all comes down to Buy More Stuff, and when you reduce it down to its primary thing it becomes very weird. When the message is pared down to its essence is when it confuses people the most."

On the subject of consumerism, at its height this weekend, when even the staid New York Times is running blog posts about "Skipping the Stores," would it confuse matters more if I disclose that the author of the HuffPo piece, Ming Holden, is my niece, and that the event's co-founder, Michael Holden, is my son?



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About the Authors & Contributors

Ronald Holden

Ronald Holden

Ronald Holden is a regular Crosscut contributor. His new book, published this month, is titled “HOME GROWN Seattle: 101 True Tales of Local Food & Drink." (Belltown Media. $17.95).