A note from 2013 by the TreeHouse President, Jason Ballard
It is now common knowledge that the day after Thanksgiving, the so-called Black Friday, is one of the busiest shopping days of the year. It has seemed to most retailers to be the perfect time to kick start the holiday shopping season and their own sales by outdoing each other in opening earlier, staying open later, and offering unbelievable discounts. After two years of reflection and business, it has become apparent to us that these practices don’t fit well with TreeHouse, even though we are in the sales business, for several reasons:
1. TreeHouse Values its Customers
We hold gratitude, loved ones, celebration and cheer in the highest esteem. We don’t want you to leave those things for fear that you might miss some “deal.” TreeHouse tries to sell our products at the fairest price possible from January 1st to December 31st. We are open 360 days a year. We will be happy to serve you on any of them. Spend the Thanksgiving holiday being grateful and cultivating life. TreeHouse’s mission is for as many people as possible to live in homes that are healthy for themselves and the world around them. Having a healthy home goes beyond its construction and materials. Having a healthy home would have to include the amount of quality time spent there with friends and family giving thanks, enjoying the simple company of loved ones, or sharing life. It seems to us the Thanksgiving weekend is the opportune time for many people for this kind of healthfulness, and TreeHouse has no desire to interrupt it.
2. TreeHouse Values its Employees
For all of the reasons above and more, we want them to be in the practice of rest, gratitude, and renewal. Such employees (grateful, happy, and flourishing) will not only be good for TreeHouse, they will be good for every other person who ever walks into TreeHouse.
3. TreeHouse Values Nature
Most of the challenges humanity currently faces and the challenges that each of us face every day are really issues of the human heart. The environmental and health challenges that we face and that are at the heart of TreeHouse’s reason for being are certainly no exceptions. Forests do not clear cut themselves. Water doesn’t poison itself. Top soil does not sterilize itself. It is the activities of people that do these things, and these activities happen with such regularity because our hearts are confused & disordered. The Thanksgiving holiday is one of the few moments in our society where a collective reordering and re-centering is possible: thanksgiving & contentment before shopping lists & errands, peace & happiness before stress & hurry, home and rest before the store & mall.
Of course we must sell our products & services to stay in business, but that does not mean it is our mission and it certainly is not the sole basis on which we will judge ourselves. Saying a business’s mission is to make a profit is like saying a human body’s purpose is to breathe. A human must breathe to stay alive, but human life is about so much more than simply breathing. Perhaps a good question for any business to ask itself would be, “What is the effect of this business, its products, practices, and policies, on things of absolute value?” Take a forest for example. A forest (which is really a mysterious & complex collection of plants, animals, soil, water, air, light, and beauty) contains lumber and lumber is worth so much per board foot, so it is easy to calculate the “value” of a forest and make an “objective” and “business” decision as to whether or not to “harvest” that forest. What is not accounted for in this scheme are those things of absolute value… fresh air, clean water, healthy topsoil, and beauty for example. Once those are factored in, the accounting changes … as do the decisions.
In deciding to close on Black Friday the accounting that TreeHouse has done amounts to this: although we would certainly make money, which is of some value, if we were open, the absolute value of time with cherished people, a collective period of gratitude, a short cessation of shopping, a refocusing of affections, and time away from work will, in the long run, advance the mission of TreeHouse (healthy homes in a healthy world) more than the money we could potentially have made on that day. We know closing one day a year won’t solve all our problems, but perhaps Thanksgiving is a good place to start. Perhaps home is a good place to start. Don’t come to TreeHouse on Black Friday. Stay home instead.
Happy Thanksgiving, Happy Holidays, and Merry Christmas,
Jason Ballard, President & Co-Founder, And the TreeHouse Team