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Opinion Northwest

Join the informed writers of The Times' editorial board in lively discussions at our blog, Opinion Northwest.

Topic: shopping

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November 24, 2014 at 6:04 AM

Thanksgiving is for eating, not shopping

When I heard that more retail stores plan to open on Thanksgiving this year, I felt dismayed that shopping was tainting the purity of one of my favorite holidays.

Then I remembered I live in a nation of consumers and that Americans vote more with their dollars than they do at the ballot box.

Retailers began experimenting with Thanksgiving Day shopping a few years ago with stores like Macy’s, JC Penney, Best Buy and Target launching Black Friday sales a day early. The experiment is now a full-fledged trend, but of course, not all shoppers or merchants are joining in – many are outraged.

Shoppers at Best Buy in Northgate Mall in Seattle on Thanksgiving evening in 2013. (Marcus Yam/The Seattle Times)

Shoppers at Best Buy in Northgate Mall in Seattle on Thanksgiving evening in 2013. (Marcus Yam/The Seattle Times)

Instead of enjoying turkey and all the dressings with their loved ones, some people will be forced to work next Thursday. And what about those helpless shoppers who can’t resist a good deal? Are greedy retail companies taking advantage of them?

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Comments | Topics: black friday, Nordstrom, shopping

December 9, 2013 at 12:00 PM

Reader responses to Amazon drones in Seattle-area skies

Last week, Amazon.com Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos unveiled on “60 Minutes” his company’s future plans to deploy a drone delivery service. (Calm down, numerous media outlets such as CBS News report it won’t happen for a while. Maybe never.)

In this handout provided by Amazon.com, a remote aerial vehicle being called Prime Air that online retailer Amazon hopes to develop to deliver goods to customers takes flight. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos hopes to deliver packages to customers in 30 minutes or less using the unmanned vehicles but says it could take years to advance the technology and get FAA approval. (Photo by Amazon via Getty Images)

In this handout provided by Amazon.com, a remote aerial vehicle being called Prime Air that online retailer Amazon hopes to develop to deliver goods to customers takes flight. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos hopes to deliver packages to customers in 30 minutes or less using the unmanned vehicles but says it could take years to advance the technology and get FAA approval. (Photo by Amazon via Getty Images)

The announcement drew mass attention and criticism, both good and bad. To get a sense of how Americans feel about the skies possibly filling with unmanned drones someday, The Huffington Post and public opinion site YouGov surveyed 1,000 adults between Dec. 2 and 3. As reported on Friday, the joint poll found “Americans are largely undecided about whether an Amazon drone delivery program is a good idea or a bad one, with 23 percent saying it’s a good idea, 36 percent saying it’s a bad idea, and another 41 percent saying they’re not sure.”

In this Dec. 2 Opinion Northwest blog post, I asked readers to share how they would use the service if the Federal Aviation Administration ever wrote the rules allowing Amazon Prime Air to take off.

People offered some quirky, thoughtful responses:

I would not use it because of the chance that some kid with a pellet gun or slingshot would have a wonderful time shooting one out of the sky, not just for fun but also to also steal what I ordered.

I am also a pilot. From the ground up to 3000 feet, it is uncontrolled airspace. It is every man for himself. I do not want to be low on final approach and have to deal with a drone passing in front of me.

In theory it all sounds great, but it is just not practical. It also would mean fewer available jobs.

— Carl Levi, Auburn

I’d love an online pharmacy that had the ability to deliver my prescriptions 24/7. By the way,  the hysteria against small-aircraft delivery reminds me of the initial reactions to cash machines. A small RFID (radio-frequency identification) on my roof should allow for the 21st century equivalent of the milk delivery box at every house. Very doable.

— John Karp, Bothell

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Comments | Topics: Amazon, drones, shopping

December 3, 2013 at 6:00 AM

How would you use Amazon’s drone delivery service?

Before we get to those much-talked-about drones, it’s worth pausing for a moment to remember the larger theme that emerged from Sunday’s “60 Minutes” profile on Amazon founder Jeff Bezos: Innovation is the key to survival for any company or employee.

You gotta earn your keep in this world. When you invent something new, if customers come to the party, it’s disruptive to the old way.

But enough sage advice from a shrewd entrepreneur.

In this handout provided by Amazon.com, a remote aerial vehicle being called Prime Air that online retailer Amazon hopes to develop to deliver goods to customers takes flight. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos hopes to deliver packages to customers in 30 minutes or less using the unmanned vehicles but says it could take years to advance the technology and get FAA approval. (Photo by Amazon via Getty Images)

In this handout provided by Amazon.com, a remote aerial vehicle being called Prime Air that online retailer Amazon hopes to develop to deliver goods to customers takes flight. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos hopes to deliver packages to customers in 30 minutes or less using the unmanned vehicles but says it could take years to advance the technology and get FAA approval. (Photo by Amazon via Getty Images)

The Internet is all abuzz over the final three minutes in the segment. Bezos pulled off a sophisticated PR stunt on the eve of Cyber Monday when he unveiled the possibility Amazon will use octocopters (a.k.a. drones) in the future to deliver goods to consumers wherever they may be.

“I know this looks like science fiction, but it’s not,” Bezos told his visibly intrigued interviewer, Charlie Rose.

Here’s video of a prototype from Amazon’s YouTube channel:

Of course, a drone delivery service isn’t even legal and it’s unclear whether the FAA will ever actually approve it. (Read this CNN Money reality-check story.)

Did CBS get worked Sunday night by one of the richest men in the world? Yeah. Kinda.

Steve Jobs would be proud of Bezos’ blatant marketing ploy before a national audience on the most storied newsmagazine show in television history.

But even if there’s no chance Amazon Prime Air will begin any sooner than 2015, Bezos gets some kudos for stirring up our collective imagination (or for some people, horror at the thought of these unmanned drones flying through the air and possibly — gulp — hitting unintended targets).

The AP’s Scott Mayerowitz offered a list of “novel uses” for Amazon Prime Air, including these two cheeky ideas:

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Comments | Topics: 60 Minutes, Amazon, cbs news

November 27, 2013 at 12:11 PM

Readers give Thanksgiving Day shopping mixed reviews

In a Monday Opinion Northwest blog post, we asked readers to share their thoughts about some retailers opening their doors to consumers on Thanksgiving Day.

Below is an edited sampling of their nuanced responses.

Read on. Have a safe holiday weekend.

(Cartoon by Chan Lowe / Sun Sentinel)

(Cartoon by Chan Lowe / Sun Sentinel)

Thanksgiving Day is not a day to shop

No way. It is a day for families and friends to come together. Respect families enough to close the stores and eateries and give it a rest for 24 hours, for goodness sake. Can we please retain some respect for something other than the almighty dollar in this country? For just one day? Please?

— Dot Thiessen, Kent

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Comments | Topics: black friday, christmas, shopping

November 26, 2013 at 6:00 AM

Do you plan to shop Thanksgiving Day?

I love to shop, but not on Thanksgiving.

This day should be reserved for family, friends, food and reflection. Watching some of my own family members sift through advertisements over dessert last year sort of made me cringe, but at least we were all together.

Now comes the news (reported in this Seattle Times story) that area big-box retailers are opening as early as 6 a.m. on Thursday. Yeah, I’m worried a few people I know (and I love them no matter what) will brave the cold after dinner in order to get in line and grab the best deal possible on the latest gadget or game console.

(Op-Art by Paul Tong)

(Op Art by Paul Tong)

But here are three reasons everyone should stay at the table for pumpkin pie:

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Comments | Topics: black friday, shopping, thanksgiving