Target Shoppers Discuss Store's Black Friday Hours

Anthony Hardwick, a Target employee from Nebraska, made headlines for his petition drive against the company's plan to open stores at midnight after Thanksgiving. Is it wrong to make employees work right after they finish Thanksgiving dinner? Or is Target simply giving customers what they want?

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GUY RAZ, HOST:

It's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Guy Raz.

When the holidays roll around, how much shopping is too much shopping? Hordes already pile to the stores before the sun is up on the morning of so-called Black Friday. This year, Target, Wal-Mart and some other retailers are opening even earlier - midnight, as Thursday turns to Friday. And some workers are protesting.

NPR's Chris Arnold waded into the retail trenches to get the latest.

CHRIS ARNOLD, BYLINE: If Dr. Seuss were alive today, he might want to write a sequel to "The Grinch," who this time is stealing Thanksgiving. At least that's how some retail workers feel and their complaints seem to have struck a chord.

In recent days this story has spread across the Web, blogs and network TV.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Now those full contact shoppers can start even earlier, midnight on Thursday.

ARNOLD: ABC and most other networks talked to a Target employee in Omaha, Nebraska. Anthony Hardwick didn't like being told that he had to report for work at 11 PM Thanksgiving night.

ANTHONY HARDWICK: I'm going to have to get some sleep and I'll probably go to bed at two and miss my family Thanksgiving dinner completely.

ARNOLD: Hardwick started an online petition called Tell Target to Save Thanksgiving. A couple hundred thousand signatures were delivered in paper form to Target's headquarters. The pages were stuffed into those red and white Target shopping bags.

For its part, Target says its customers want to go shopping on Thanksgiving night. And no doubt, some will.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: That's about as American as you can get, turkey and shopping.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

ARNOLD: In the historic Downtown Crossing Shopping District in Boston, a small charity band is already playing holiday music. High school teacher Kate Newburgh says that she probably won't be shopping one on Thanksgiving. But Danny Jones, who's walking by with his cousin, might be.

DANNY JONES: Thanksgiving, man, is not only about food. So what if you need something? It's good to have something open because nothing is going to be open that day.

MIKE JONES: (unintelligible)

JONES: To have an option.

ARNOLD: Danny's cousin, Mike Jones, though, says he wants to eat turkey and watch football and settle in for some quality time on the couch. And he thinks the Friday after Thanksgiving shopping craze is chaotic enough. Opening after Thanksgiving dinner, he says, might be asking for trouble.

JONES: Dangerous for the employees, man, 'cause, you know, people come out there after eating and drinking. And them people be rowdy, man.

JONES: That's true though.

JONES: Shoot, I don't want to work on Thanksgiving. I mean, or after Thanksgiving. I want to have the whole week off.

ARNOLD: With the down economy some workers might be happy with some extra hours. Some shoppers said that stores should try to find people who want to work on Thanksgiving, but they should try not to force people.

JULIO ARROYO: I already put my notice a month ago, just in case.

ARNOLD: That you weren't going to work on Thanksgiving?

ARROYO: Yup.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

ARROYO: Just in case.

ARNOLD: Julio Arroyo is working as a security guard outside a shoe store.

ARROYO: I mean, I look out for this 'cause I work almost seven days a week anyways, 'cause I got to support my family. But personally I want that day off.

JOHN INKLEDON: I think there should always be some things that are more important than a day at work.

ARNOLD: John and Christine Inkledon are visiting from Weybridge, England, where they say you can actually still see store closed signs hanging up in shop windows.

INKLEDON: There's a thing in England called the Lord's Day Observance Society and it's still powerful. We've always had restrictions on opening hours. Sunday is an example, you know, you can only open half a day. And, generally, I think that's a popular thing, as well.

ARNOLD: But come Friday night here in America, workers at Target, Best Buy, Wal-Mart, Toys 'R Us, Macy's and other stores will be hustling around the aisles and ringing up some well-fed and perhaps tipsy shoppers.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELLS)

ARNOLD: Chris Arnold, NPR News, Boston.

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