Kmart has just opened its first New Zealand 24-hour store in Sylvia Park, Auckland. Reaction to this ‘open all hours’ policy has been mixed …
Jason Picard, Kmart Manager NZ, says it’s about ‘offering better support’ to ‘shift workers and people working non-traditional business hours’.
Ok, so this makes sense—to a point. The expanded opening hours has widened the scope for other groups previously excluded, like those who struggle with social anxiety. Crowds and chaos are a barrier for this group, as they are for shoppers with mobility issues and a variety of disabilities.
But when many Kmart branches are open until midnight, do most of us need to be able to shop until we drop 24/7? Jason goes on to say that most customers who walk in (to Kmart) have ‘no idea what they’re going to walk out with’. It’s true: most of the time, our shopping is not really about what we need, but about what we want. And we want stuff—the latest stuff.
It wouldn’t be fair to critique Kmart alone—they are just meeting the demand of a consumer-driven culture. We’re obsessed with ‘fast fashion’ and cheap products—so much so that the idea of shopping at 2am sparks the feel-good endorphins in our brain. And Kmart is trying hard to improve its ethical rating, with a B+ from Tearfund’s Ethical Fashion Guide.
But unfettered consumerism creates suffering in other parts of the world and often has a huge environmental impact—which cannot be ignored. And yet many of us do ignore it. I ignore it—especially when there’s a bargain to be found.
I wanted to write an article about how God is like Kmart—open all hours. And he is! Inclusion is always a good thing—but it needs to include the factory workers who make the products, as well as our neighbours down the road.
Jesus hated exclusion. He was all about challenging cultural assumptions about who belonged and who didn’t, in favour of highlighting the rights and value of those marginalised and rejected by traditional social norms.
He was an includer through and though. And he delighted in making sure the unnoticed and unloved were not excluded from his attention. One of the longest exchanges in the gospels is his conversation with a Samaritan woman, who came to the well alone in the heat of the day, because everyone else came when it was cool. She avoided the crowds, and that day so did Jesus. He made sure she was given the opportunity to be included in his kingdom.
Like Jesus, I would rather be excluded for who I include, rather than included for who I exclude. Being ‘open all hours’ means including everyone in the scope of our care—whether that’s the shift worker in our country, or the factory worker in another part of the world.
By Jules Badger (c) 'War Cry' magazine, 21 September 2019 p3. You can read 'War Cry' at your nearest Salvation Army church or centre, or subscribe through Salvationist Resources.