Ancient History

Follow Me?


An open letter to Target regarding Black Friday

Dear Target,

You know I love you. You know I shop there a lot. We have a family of 10, and that means we frequently stock up on life’s many essentials with you perched at the top of our list. Also, all of our prescriptions are filled by your pharmacy.

We are not casual customers. We know many of the employees by name and they know ours. I love walking through the doors expecting to see familiar smiling faces and great quality for the price.

But it was with huge disappointment I learned you will be opening at midnight on Black Friday. Your employees must report to work at 11pm on Thanksgiving Day. This seems like such a Wal Mart move to make. It’s ugly. It’s trashy. It’s calculated to encroach on a day of rest, tradition, family, and reflection. Your employees will have to leave their celebrations and observances to sleep so they’ll be able to work an ungodly hours their bodies aren’t used to working.

I noticed one of your managers stated in a news story: “I don’t like the fact I have to come in on Thanskgiving, but when you work in retail it’s the nature of the beast,” Schuknecht said. “I understand the value of it. Our traffic has been tremendous.”

But he’s wrong. It isn’t the nature of the beast. There isn’t some mighty evil retail monster forcing any store to open on Thanksgiving or at midnight on Black Friday. Admit you do it because you have dollars in your eyes and they are more sparkly than gratefulness, humility, rest, and family. I’m especially disappointed in you, Target, because you are a leader in many areas like fashion, food, store layout, cleanliness, innovation, convenience. But in this case, you are proving to be just another slack-jawed behemoth succumbing to peer pressure.

You are being led around by your nose.

There are people who note police, fire, hospital, transportation, and travel employees must work on Thanksgiving, so we shouldn’t feel terrible for retail workers. I contend there is a huge difference between stopping crimes or heart attacks or house fires and scanning socks at 2am. One of the above can wait. For real.

You must not feel terribly confident about your Black Friday offerings. If you did, if the deals were so fantastic, if the quality is out of this world, guess what? People would wait for you to open. You could open at noon on Friday and still have your massive crowds if there was something worth waiting for.

Do you have a low opinion of the American consumer? The rubes are willing to shop at midnight! We are just your drooling fools who are lured through doors by toys and electronics that will be broken and/or forgotten by mid-January.

Americans should feel offended by Black Friday. Not only because it’s continually encroaching on Thanksgiving but because it’s really, really insulting. 3-packs of character underwear for $4 and DVDs of mediocre movies for $5 are dangled like carrots and all of a sudden? Rioting rabbits lining up 30 people deep in check-out lanes manned by people who left the sides of those they love to scan and stock and restock.

Not only do I refuse to shop on Black Friday (and have not for the past several years), I am starting to think about things like:

~Transferring all of our prescriptions from Target to a different pharmacy. Remember, we have a family of 10. That amounts to a lot of money.

~Doing more of my necessity shopping at local grocery stores—they have diapers, too (and I have 2 in diapers!)

~Shopping online

~Checking out small businesses in my community on Small Business Saturday

~Making our own gifts/DIY

Target, my opinion of you has taken a nosedive this past week and it’s all because of your decision to open at midnight on Black Friday. I expect that from K-Mart or Wal Mart. It’s a little like Coldplay being worried about Loverboy playing a set in the bar at a bus station and demanding their manager book them, too. I suppose it’s just another sign that our world is growing increasingly more trite, flimsy, cheap, ungrateful.



(UPDATE: thanks to Target for their quick response in the comments!)

83 comments to An open letter to Target regarding Black Friday

  • Kevin

    I don’t get it. That’s not to say that I don’t get the sentiment about wanting to protect a wonderful and somewhat neglected holiday tradition. I love Thanksgiving Day and I certainly don’t have any interest in fighting crowds of ravenous over-fed, under-slept shoppers. But I guess I just don’t think blaming Target is the way to go here. Now, I’m no Target apologist; I can’t stand the place, but it’s a business. Target sees an opportunity to get an advantage on its competitors and increase its profits.

    As far as the employees, yeah, that sucks. I wouldn’t like it at all. But every job has its drawbacks. I operate a restaurant, and it always amazes me every year when my employees try to request off for Mother’s day. If you are in the industry, you know that is the busiest day of the year for most restaurants. It’s just the nature of the beast.

    I guess what I’m saying is that In the end, Target is just filling the demand that is out there. If you said that people should not go to the store at midnight. If you said we should all spend more time appreciating what is truely important rather than stressing out about what we are going to get people for Christmas or how much money we should be spending, I’d be right there with you. But asking Target not to try to get people to shop is like asking poop not to smell bad. It’s not the poop’s fault. Just stop sniffing it.

  • Benita Miller

    and what about the Target Christmas commercials with the ditsy blonde ? … is Target mocking consumers as being frantic, retail obsessed, soul-less twits ? Target established their reputation as being a ‘cut above’ the average mass retail industry, but they are really heading down-market …

  • Mendy

    What don’t you get—-“A National Holiday”!!!!!
    One that has not controversy, but one that reflects being thankful for our country.
    Allow families to just one day out of the year be together without thinking of
    material things. Our country is becoming about not morals, not values, but materialistic
    selfish, uncharitable egomaniacs. What about feeding the homeless? Instead we
    spend our extra money that would go helping others for electronics. This happened
    in history in the fall of Rome. This is so sad. Wake up America.

  • PetiteMom

    Hello, Lots of great comments already. Just wanted to add: I work for a different retailer (NOT a competitor of Target). Over the past few years, the 4th quarter is more and more critical for Retailers to continue operations. Shoppers are not spending the first 3 quarters of the year. I feel sorry for Associates who have to work on Thanksgiving Day or over night BUT they do get paid double or even more — and I’m sure many of them need that money to help pay for gifts for their own kids. By and large, if an Associate really did not or could not work Thanksgiving or over night, likely there would be enough coverage from other Associates so that person would be able to stay home.

    But, I think the majority of Retail Associates *want* the overtime pay. And, I know that all retailers need big numbers during the 4th quarter in order to survive. If 25% of America’s retailers went out of business then many, many jobs would be lost. You would be amazed to know that some retailers obtain 50% of their yearly Sales in the 4th quarter. (I do not know about Target but you could look/listen to their annual report or financial calls to find out specifics).

    Don’t forget there are many people who work at the corporate office (like me) who also need to work over the holidays in order to support our stores. Even though I do not get paid an overtime premium, I know how critical profitable sales are so that I can retain my own job. When I took the position at a retailer, I knew that would mean more vacation time in the summer and less around the holidays.

  • SparklingSu

    Petite Mom, with regard to your comments about consumers not buying during the first three quarters, how’s this for a suggestion: hold monthly “Black Friday prices” sales, in a different department each month, all year. Spread the sales out by giving that kind of pricing at other times. If they can cut prices that much on Black Friday and still make a profit, then during the rest of the year, they can cut them that much (or nearly – I do get the idea of volume sales, but if this catches on, the volume would be there before too long).

    And sad to say, not everyone gets double pay, or even time and a half. Corporations are really crafty about thcat kind of thing, often holding employees to 36 or 38 hours a week to avoid having to give benefits since they are technically part-time. They’re also pretty crafty about scheduling so that the Black Friday hours don’t push the employees over 40 hours, and since *Friday* is not a national holiday, only the hours worked on Thursday would qualify for amped-up pay anyway.

    The central problem is the attitude behind these practices: that bottom line is all that matters, that employees are devices for increasing said bottom line, and that consumers are mindless drones who will fall for advertising designed to *create* desires and exaggerate the opportunity to get a good deal (and to outdo their neighbors – competition on a personal level plays into this, as well as corporate competition).

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>