Get Your Cameras Ready for Half-Empty Black Friday Parking Lots

If the parking lot at your local big box store looks like this on Black Friday, you're doing it wrong. Photo: Strong Towns
Does the parking lot at your local big box store look like this on Black Friday? Photo: Strong Towns

It’s standard practice to build parking lots to accommodate the maximum number of vehicles expected on the busiest shopping day of the year.

As a result, acres and acres of unnecessary asphalt make communities less walkable, waste land, funnel polluted runoff into our groundwater, erode tax bases, and drive up prices for lots of other goods that aren’t car parking. Incredibly, a lot of these parking lots are so large they don’t even fill most of the way up on Black Friday, America’s high holiday of retail shopping.

Chuck Marohn of Strong Towns came up with an ingenious plan to help highlight this rather unsexy issue last year. He encouraged people to take pictures of half-empty parking lots on Black Friday and tweet them with the hashtag #blackfridayparking. Last year’s contest produced some eye-poppers.

Chuck is encouraging people to do the same this year. If you’re out there holiday shopping and come across one of those sad, empty parking lots, please tweet it and show the world the foolishness of our parking policies. For more information, check out the Strong Towns blog

In the meantime, Streetsblog USA wishes everyone a happy Thanksgiving, and looks forward to reviewing your spectacular pictures Monday.

  • Black Friday is the sport of the American Lunatic & wages war on Thanksgiving. How absolutely insane is it that people would fight and injure one another for the sake of saving a dollar. Every year, there are casualties as folks are literally trampled to death over electronics and jewelry in this dystopian game. Big Business has created a manic hysteria out of shopping which is immoral and irresponsible. Santa is now the mascot for Corporate Greed and he’s suffering the consequences at the hands of a very disgruntled Thanksgiving Turkey at http://dregstudiosart.blogspot.com/2012/11/the-war-on-thanksgiving-one-turkeys.html

  • Davistrain

    First of all, I wonder can a parking lot be “sad”? I suppose that’s a bit of anthropomorphic shrorthand for “sadness inducing”. If I have nothing better to do tomorrow I will go by the only nearby WalMart (in Duarte CA) and take a look. Not that I want to be anywhere near a shoppers’ feeding frenzy (if it really happens), but I go out that way to check on the new light-rail line that will give citizens an alternative to the often-jammed 210 Freeway. The rebuttal to why the lot isn’t full all the way to the street could be that estimating peak parking requirements is not an exact science, or we could quote the old firefighters’ motto: “Better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.”

  • davistrain

    Report from Saturday (didn’t leave the house on Friday) in the San Gabriel Valley (east of Pasadena CA): Walmart in Duarte–lot was nearly full. Santa Anita mall (next to the racetrack in Arcadia) lot appeared to be nearly full, and more cars were seen headed that way. Note that this is one mall that has a bus stop next to the main building, but it didn’t look very bike-friendly. So at least in these possibly atypical cases, the parking lots really did get used.

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