The Economics of Mother’s Day

Mothers. They give us the gift of life, and we give them greeting cards. Anna Jarvis , the creator of Mother’s Day in the United States (first celebrated in 1908), became so dissatisfied with the over-commercialization of the holiday that she spent her life protesting it. Maybe if she had children of her own she would have realized that motherhood is a gift in itself, and that it really is the thought that counts.

Every year, Americans spend billions of dollars on Mother’s Day. The National Retail Federation shows how this spending has been affected by economic conditions in 2007, 2008, and 2009.

But what is it that moms really want?

In Missoula, Montana , Elke Govertson has come up with a novel way to embrace our capitalist-consumerism while honoring mothers at the same time. Five years ago, Elke put on the first Mother’s Day Eve Bash , with a group of about 30 moms. Each year the event has grown bigger. Last year, approximately 350 attended. The event is free to any and all moms, with a suggested donation of $5. Local businesses donate goods and services and there are many sweet prizes given away (this year’s big prize was a dishwasher from Vann’s). Moms get to spend a night out doing yoga, soaking in the hot tub, drinking wine and eating while chatting with other moms, to name just a few of the activities available.

Missoula Moms enjoying Mother's Day Eve
Missoula Moms enjoying Mother's Day Eve

 This year, Elke also used this venue to launch her new magazine, Mamalode.

Elke addresses the crowd
Elke addresses the crowd

So what’s in it for the businesses who are giving stuff away? More customers, hopefully. The majority of household spending is done by mothers. It turns out, making moms happy makes good business sense.