In what may be the most British thing ever, British bookshops are offering “Civilised Saturday” events to shoppers wary (or weary) of Black Friday chaos.
The shopping holiday known as Black Friday began in the States, but has spread like a rash in recent years up into Canada, down into Mexico, and across the pond to Europe, Asia, and Australia, despite the fact that none of these countries celebrate American Thanksgiving. Last Black Friday, British consumers spent more than £800 million online. Just online.
But not every retailer is happy about Black Friday. “It’s about discounts. It’s about a feeding frenzy,” Alan Staton of the Booksellers Association told The Guardian. He said the day’s violent scramble for bargains and steals is “antithetical” to everything booksellers stand for.
Fortunately, there’s an alternative. More than 100 independent bookshops around the country have planned for a Civilised Saturday. “It may be for people who have gone through Black Friday and need some R&R afterwards,” Staton explained to The Guardian, “or for those who shun it for a more civilised alternative.”
Civilised Saturday events and offerings will vary from shop to shop, as each has interpreted the theme differently. At Book-ish Bookshop in Crickhowell, customers can sip prosecco and compete in a posture competition, walking down the street with books balanced on their heads.
“I liked the idea of an alternative to Black Friday,” proprietor Emma Corfield-Walters told The Guardian. “It’s a bit of a yah boo sucks to the big guys like Amazon.”
The Bookshop Kibworth in Leicester is offering a day of relaxation-by-reading. “We’re going to invite people in the shop to take a seat in our specially delivered green velvet armchair, and get them to explain to us what they’re looking for and how they’re feeling,” owner Debbie James told The Guardian. “Then we’ll go about plucking titles off the shelf to bring back for them to look at in the chair. They’ll also be given tea and cakes, and a complimentary hand massage.”
Visitors to the Edinburgh Bookshop can enjoy “genteel” snacks and beverages. At Burway Books, they’ll find mince pies, mulled wine, art, and singing. Wenlock Books in Shropshire is serving afternoon tea.
It seems unlikely, but maybe if Americans are very, very good, it’ll catch on over here.