Your Foolproof Black Friday Guide, Fashion Law Edition

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As both a holiday shopper and retail-worker veteran, I’ve experienced Black Friday from inside and out. Despite the fact that I’m not really an active bargain-hunter (I prefer to be surprised by deals as I’m randomly browsing), it’s a tradition for me to visit my local mall every year, whether I’m working in a store or shopping myself. This year I’ll be running around the Banana Republic store at The Mall at Short Hills, one of the most sophisticated malls in the country (but trust me, even there people can behave a little primitively for a good deal, especially on Black Friday). So with the big day just a week away, I’d like to share some tips on surviving the holiday without running into any legal troubles. Happy shopping!

  1. Don’t Trample and/or Kill Retail Workers

Remember back in 2008 when a Walmart employee died upon opening the doors for anxious shoppers? There have apparently been seven Black Friday-related deaths and 90 injuries since 2006. While Walmart should be held somewhat accountable, given the unfair ways it treats its employees, shoppers also need to calm down. I know heavy advertising and tempting deals can certainly feed into the hype and excitement of getting to be the first one in the store, but come on guys, you’re supposed to show gratitude on Thanksgiving. Don’t be so greedy.

  1. Don’t Show Up Until Thanksgiving is Officially Over

With more and more stores opening on Thanksgiving Day to accommodate shoppers who choose to spend their holiday waiting in line instead of being with their families, retail workers end up missing out on spending the holiday with their families too. Lucky magazine compiled a list of its favorite stores that will not be open on Thanksgiving. Support them! I know being around family can be stressful, but some people actually like their families. So out of respect for retail workers, spend the day enjoying your family’s company at home–and then maybe peace out early saying you have to rest up for the next day. (Kidding! Okay, well, kind of.)

  1. Please, For the Love of God, Try to Keep the Stores Neat

As a visual specialist, nothing angers me more than setting up a display only for a customer to dismantle it the second I turn around. You know what’s part of a sales associate’s job description? Finding the right size for customers. So when in doubt just ask, because it’s a lot easier for the person who folded the pile to begin with to pull a size, than for a customer who may already have their hands full of other items. That said…

  1. …Please Be Patient with Sales Associates and Any Other Store/Mall Employees

Believe it or not we actually want to help you. It makes us happy and will make you happy. Trust me. Personally I am a very independent shopper. I don’t really like talking to people when I shop; I rarely even bring friends with me. But sometimes a manager or associate whose job it is to know all about the product may be able to offer something that you never would have known if you hadn’t given them your time of day. Did you know those shirts are non-iron? Those jeans come in three other washes. That dress would look great with these shoes. If you spend over $100 dollars today you get a free gift with purchase. I swear we’re not JUST trying to make a sale (most stores don’t even pay commission anymore), we just really like to help and offer our opinions, like we would for a friend.

But at the same time, try not to be too demanding of employees. Sometimes an associate, or even a manager may not know something about a product, because they are not the ones who produce the item. If you have any questions that store employees are not sure about, check out the store’s website or call its corporate headquarters. Customer service extends well beyond a company’s brick-and-morter locations.

  1. Don’t Forget to Give!

Part of the reason I’ve loved working for Gap Inc. over the last three years is that they always give back. Every holiday season, stores “Adopt a Family” so employees can buy gifts for a family in need. And with around 100 employees per store, that’s a lot of potential to give. My store collects non-perishable foods from employees, as well. But there are still opportunities for customers to give too. Saks Fifth Avenue has had a partnership with St. Jude’s since 2006 and they host a lot of auctions and benefits, especially around the holidays. And of course there’s Macy’s famous Believe campaign with Make A Wish Foundation where for every letter to Santa put in their mailbox, they’ll donate one dollar. Also, don’t just ignore that Santa standing out in the cold collecting money for the Salvation Army. I usually just drop my change from Starbucks in there because it’s already in my hand anyway.

Have fun and happy holidays!

Katherine Fabian
Katherine Fabian is a recent graduate of Fordham University’s College at Lincoln Center. She is a freelance writer and yoga teacher who hopes to one day practice fashion law and defend the intellectual property rights of designers. Contact Katherine at



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