Employee presents Black Friday petition to Target

Employee Seth Coleman
Target employee Seth Coleman, right, showed members of the media the more than 175,000 signatures collected by Change.org to protest the retailer's midnight Thursday opening Mon., Nov. 21, 2011 at Target headquarters in downtown Minneapolis.
MPR Photo/Jennifer Simonson

A Target store dockworker from Northfield delivered to company officials Monday what he said were 200,000 signatures on a petition asking the company to roll back its Black Friday shopping hours.

Target stores are set to open at midnight on the day after Thanksgiving, and tens of thousands of people signed an online petition asking the retail giant to keep its doors closed a little longer.

Seth Coleman handed over plastic Target bags filled with the signatures, gathered online by the organization Change.org.

Coleman will be working at the Target store in Northfield on Thanksgiving Day, from 4 a.m. to 10:45 a.m.. Then he'll return 12 hours later, to make sure the shelves are stocked for the company's first ever midnight opening for the Christmas rush.

"That means I will only have about 10 hours or so of not being at work on Thanksgiving," he said.

Target Black Friday petition
Ralph Wyman, left, with the Minnesota Unitarian Universalist Social Justice Alliance, and Unitarian minister Rev. David Breeden, right, showed members of the media the 175,000 signatures collected by Change.org to protest Target's midnight Thursday opening for Black Friday shopping. They were joined by Target employee Seth Coleman, not pictured, and delivered the signatures to Target headquarters Mon., Nov. 21, 2011.
MPR Photo/Jennifer Simonson

The petition started with another Target employee, Anthony Hardwick, who works at a store in Omaha, Neb. Supporters say it's part of a movement to push back against retailers that have been inching closer and closer to the Thanksgiving holiday.

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Although K-Mart has been open on Thanksgiving for years, stores like Best Buy and now Target are starting their Black Friday shopping earlier than ever.

"There are certain days in our country where we get to have time with our family, time off, a time to give thanks," said Coleman. "If I'm at work almost the entire day, I have nothing to give thanks for, or at least no one to give thanks with. Somebody needs to stand up and make things change."

Anahita Cameron, Target's director of stores for the northern region of the country, greeted Coleman and several fellow protesters at the door of Target's corporate headquarters on Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis.

Cameron said the company appreciated the sentiments of its employees. But she also said Target stores will be opening their doors as planned.

"The decision to open at midnight on Black Friday was not one we took lightly," she said. "Our guests have expressed that they would prefer to kick off their holiday shopping experience right after the holiday celebrations, rather than getting up in the middle of the night."

Target executive Anahita Cameron
Anahita Cameron, center, Target's director of stores for the northern region of the country, addressed the media after Target employee Seth Coleman and others announced plans to deliver 175,000 signatures to the company collected by Change.org to protest the retailer's midnight Thursday opening on Mon., Nov. 21, 2011 at Target headquarters in downtown Minneapolis.
MPR Photo/Jennifer Simonson

She added that Target corporate employees and managers would also be working long hours to support the stores.

"For all of us, that means that this week we may work more than rest of America," she said.

Cameron's company even upped the ante Monday, announcing that Target shoppers will have the chance to win $500 gift cards if they'll shop in costume on Friday. The company also said it will have unadvertised "doorbuster" sale items at stores when they open.

A block away, outside the company's flagship downtown store, shoppers had a mixed reaction to Target's plans to open at midnight on Friday.

Gregory Gillard of Minneapolis said he likes to get an early start on holiday shopping.

"It's like a family thing," he said. "The kids like to do it, and just wake up, like four in the morning or something like thate."

But he also admitted that he doesn't like working holidays, and understands that store employees would like to spend time with their families.

Diane Chretien of Blaine also said her family will probably take part in the holiday shopping season's midnight start.

"My husband is planning to go at midnight, just because that's when such great deals are," she said. "There's a couple things we have our eye on. ... But we're not such a huge fan. We'd much rather be at 4 a.m., 6 a.m. the next day."

Kathy Paron said she admires the effort to rein in Black Friday.

"First of all, I think if you have an employee that can get that many signatures, you should give them a raise and give them a good job," she said. "Second of all, it's kind of a tradition for people to do it. I don't choose to do it, but you know what, what's the big deal?"

Many shoppers will head out to go shopping at midnight on Friday, to find out whether those big deals were worth it.