Lee S. Wishing, III

Many Americans participated in consumerism-gone-wild sales during the Thanksgiving holiday. Should we be thankful for this retail madness these sales generate?

The conversation at my in - laws' feast was filled with typical Thanksgiving talk: family, God's blessings and shopping sales. My sister - in -law left the celebration with her teenage son for a while to check out a few local stores. Later, during our 45 - minute ride home, my wife suggested that I make the ten - minute ride to Prime Outlets Mall - Grove City (PA) with my oldest son to pick up a bargain or two at the big midnight sale.

According to its web site, Prime Outlets - Grove City, located near the intersection of U.S. Routes 79 and 80, is rated as one of the nation's top 20 outlet centers with over 140 brand name outlets. The mall was closed on Thanksgiving, but shoppers from great distances and Canada were primed to enjoy savings of 25% - 65% from 12:01 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. on Friday.

My son, eager to pick up a few children's classic books and Tolkein's Lord of the Rings Trilogy, rose from bed and joyously dressed at 12:15 a.m. Friday. About a mile out of town we ran into a traffic jam. Car accident, we thought.

It was no accident! Due to a successful advertising campaign, cars were jammed bumper - to - bumper for three miles on the country road between Grove City and Prime Outlets. My son and I had never seen anything like it in our peaceful community of 8,000. We avoided the jam and took a back way to the mall. Pausing on an overpass on a lightly traveled road, we viewed the traffic on Route 79 below with amazement. The four - lane highway had become a parking lot. Cars were backed up 10 miles to the north and six miles to the south. And more were stacked up on U.S. Route 80 for four miles to the east. Some people waited five hours on the interstates.

The reason became apparent when we cruised into the mall: the 3,000 - car parking lot was full. Four thousand carloads of people were stuck on the highway.

Was this a disgusting display of American consumerism gone wild? A Gordon Gecko dream? Most important, was this any way to spend a Thanksgiving evening?

Lee S. Wishing, III

Lee Wishing is administrative director of The Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College.

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