Activism

Prime Day is Fake Retail Therapy. Let’s Mend What Matters.

Projection of "Repair Reuse Relove" on a building in New York City's lower East side.

We can’t afford new right now. New stuff, new sales—it all needs to be put on hold. We’re holding on by an economic thread here. And like our pocketbooks, new stuff is straining the planet to a breaking point.

This is becoming increasingly clear as this year—and record unemployment—goes on (and on). Rather than giving us the break we deserve, Amazon is not backing down on Prime Day, their marketing campaign originally created to goose summer sales. COVID-19 pushed it to the winter season, but this year, it should have been dropped entirely. Coronavirus made brand-new things harder to get, but it also taught many of us how to live without brand-new things. Our souls, and our planet, need a break from the breakneck, pre-pandemic pace of resource extraction and carbon-spewing factory production.

We don’t think we’re alone. That’s why Back Market and iFixit teamed up to create a different made-up holiday: Still in its Prime Day. It’s a day for people to speak up and speak loud for what’s important, as a nation and as a species. Let’s drop our obsession with New, re-learn to appreciate what we have, and swap stories of the challenges that our things have overcome. In the words of another time, let’s make do and mend.

What matters versus what sells

Projection of "Still In Its Prime Day" on an Amazon warehouse.

As we enter the holiday season, we need to pull together. Knit the shreds of dignity we have remaining back together and take extra care of our friends and family. Share and repurpose and reuse and remake our things and our souls. Since the pandemic began, millions of people have pulled their sewing machines from the closet and stitched masks for their clan. A dear friend who knows of Kyle’s love of airplanes sewed him an aviation-themed mask, and he values it far more than anything bought off the shelf.

It’s easy to forget that, when we are bombarded on all sides by ads trying to convince us that love means buying something. Black Friday is coming, then Cyber Monday. Some retailers are signaling that all of November could become a Black-Friday-esque month. Now Amazon wants the whole holiday spendfest to start a month early on October 13. Eesh. Last year, Amazon spent $40 million to promote Prime Day, plastering the media with ads for their “non-stop deals.” Just imagining the oncoming advertising onslaught is exhausting. It’s just too much. Amazon is demanding we pay attention to sales we don’t need or want, and it will further strain Americans’ wilting bank accounts. 

We need lasting memories, not packages

Projection of Still In Its Prime Day on an iPhone in an Apple advertisement.

When Vianney thinks back on holidays past, he doesn’t remember many of the gifts he received, except for one: a miniature wooden stable from the Nativity Scene. His grandfather painstakingly crafted it for him one Christmas, thinking ahead to the moment when Vianney would continue the family tradition with his own children. It’s the memories and stories that make things special: the Santa hat your family has been wearing for generations, the extremely 80s jacket your dad still has (that is very in style right now), the carving knife that’s been sharpened and handed down and sharpened again, the station wagon that took you to Grandma’s and is still trucking as the neighbor kid’s first car. How many of you and your family’s keepsakes got that way because of a flash sale, or bundle with a smart speaker?

Retail therapy does not make us happy. If we’re out looking for the next deal practically as soon as we bring something home, we have to wonder: Are these products and the shopping experience surrounding them designed to bring only short-term satisfaction? Is shopping in this click-and-autofill way affecting our psychology and behavior in a lasting way that makes it more difficult for us to appreciate what we have? And perhaps most importantly: Does this new thing benefit humanity or harm it?

We don’t need more things. Let’s hang on to what we’ve got. Let’s hold on tightly to our friends and family and the shared memories that bind us. 2020 has been rough, but together we have the grit and determination and soul to overcome this adverse moment and come out stronger on the other side.

You’re still in your prime. And so is your stuff. Don’t let all the ads, commercials, and “great deals” fool you into thinking otherwise. This year, it’s more clear than ever what matters. 

#StillinitsPrimeDay

Kyle Wiens, CEO, iFixit

Vianney Vaute, Co-Founder, Back Market