Buy Nothing group carols in malls -- and gets ejected
By Sandra E. Martin
Post, December 11, 2004
ENNS HAS A UNIQUE STYLE of Christmas caroling that shoppers seem
to enjoy -- but most merchants do not. Mr. Enns and his rotating
entourage have been ejected from shopping malls and big box stores
on more than one occasion for their lyric twists on favourite holiday
songs such as Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.
As Mr. Enns, co-founder of the Buy Nothing Christmas
sings it, the tune goes: "Oh oh we're in the red, dear / On
our credit card it shows / Christmas is almost over / But the debit
line still grows...."
You get the picture. It isn't that he's a Grinch.
On the contrary, the 43-year-old Winnipegger loves giving gifts.
"Giving is a wonderful thing," he says.
"What I object to is how it's become taken over by the commercial
forces." His Web site offers tons of tips, from himself and
from some of the site's 3,200 daily visitors, on how to show you
care at Christmas without getting into debt.
Suggestions include giving home-made gifts, or low-cost
items with lots of thought value, such as custom CDs, cookies and
-- perhaps most original -- "Give [the free-to-download computer
operating system] Linux for Christmas! ... And give a hand installing
Proving he practises what he preaches, Mr. Enns, together
with his partner, is making personalized, screen-printed pillowcases
for each of his 18 nieces and nephews.
A freelance writer and a former editor with the anti-commercial
Adbusters magazine, Mr. Enns calls himself "a campaigner....
My goal is to identify and build a community of folks who want to
celebrate Christmas, but do it in a simpler way." But he's
learned from experience that it's easier to get people to listen
to humour than to a sermon.
"Earnestness is a problem with campaigns,"
he says. "They can come off as too heavy-handed."
There are signs that his lighter approach is working.
After being asked to leave a local mall in Winnipeg, his group was
"rescued" by the manager of a shoe store, who invited
them into the sanctuary of her shop, where they continued "stop-shop
carolling" for several more songs.
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