As the country heads towards Black Friday, Tina Schiel, Target EVP – Stores, took some time to share her thoughts on the biggest shopping day of the year.
How many Black Fridays have you worked for Target?
Tina Schiel: This will be my 25th Black Friday with Target! And it’s just as big a thrill for me today as it was back in 1987, when I began with Target as an area manager at our store in Abilene, Texas. And, in case anybody’s curious about what the hot toys were in 1987: Thundercats and So Soft Ponies. I was blown away by the excitement of Black Friday at Target that year. I’ve been with the company ever since, and have spent Black Fridays at stores all across the county. I wouldn’t miss it for the world.
Can you describe Black Friday from an insider’s perspective?
TS: Whether you regularly shop Black Friday or simply watch recaps on the news, it’s impossible not to pick up on the excitement the day brings Target’s guests. But I have to tell you, it’s even better inside the store waiting for those doors to open. As excited as our guests are, the enthusiasm and energy among the team members is even greater. It is absolutely overwhelming to see the expectation on the faces of our team members. They have worked hard for weeks and even months to get ready for this day. Right before those doors open, you’ll see the team running around high-fiving each other and cheering.
How are you showing your support for store teams on Black Friday?
TS: I’ll meet with Target store teams in the hours leading up to Black Friday and throughout the day. I’m always thrilled to be with the team on Black Friday, and experience the excitement of the day with them. In fact, every year on Black Friday dozens of our executives fan out across the country – donning their red and khaki – to work alongside our team members in the stores, to thank them, to cheer them on and also to hear from our guests. The entire Target team is a dynamic, competitive bunch. We want to win on Black Friday! We all know that only happens thanks to the tremendous efforts and enthusiasm of our store team members.
Is it hard to staff your stores on Black Friday – particularly during the early-hour openings?
TS: You know, this might come as a surprise to some people, but it’s really not. At every single Target store, the majority of our team members enjoy working on Black Friday and want to be there for the opening. It’s an event that’s just part of the retail culture. When I heard from several stores that news of the midnight opening was met with enthusiasm from the majority of our team members, I wasn’t surprised one bit. While it’s hard work, there’s just this great frenetic energy about the day. Put simply: it’s a lot of fun.
There have been a lot of questions out there about how this earlier Black Friday start time will impact the people who work at Target stores. What is Target’s response?
TS: Black Friday is one of the busiest and most competitive shopping days of the year. We all know that. We also know that the retail landscape gets more and more competitive every year. We have heard from our guests that they want to shop Target following their Thanksgiving celebrations rather than only having the option of getting up in the middle of the night. By opening at midnight, we are making it easier than ever to deliver on our guests’ wants and needs. Of course, Target does its best to work around the schedules of our team members, making every effort to accommodate their requests.
A lot has been said about this online petition regarding Black Friday. What is Target’s response?
TS: First, let me say that we respect the right of all of our team members to express their opinions and that Target actively seeks feedback from our team members. That’s part of what makes Target great. Opening at midnight on Black Friday wasn’t a decision we took lightly. We heard from our guests and talked to our teams, seeking to understand how changing the hours would impact them. We heard overwhelming support for the earlier opening. We made the decision, put our plans in place, and now we’re gearing up to open our doors on Black Friday.
What are some examples of how your employees have fun on Black Friday and throughout the holidays?
TS: Store leaders provide food and fun on Black Friday. For example, at our store in Wareham, Mass., near Cape Cod, Store Team Leader Kelly Riley provides coffee and donuts and bagels for team members when the store opens, and she’s arranged for the first catered pasta lunch to show up a 4 a.m. Kelly is planning to have pasta delivered twice more during the day! Another example that I love is at our store in Mesquite, Texas. That store has designated “Cheer-Leaders” during each shift on Black Friday who deliver cards, candy and high-fives to team members to recognize their great efforts and wins. And, of course, after Black Friday our team leaders strive to keep it fun throughout the holiday season. Billy Kee, the team leader of one of our stores in Memphis, Tenn., has Christmas movies playing in his store’s break room throughout December. He also has a theme for team members every day during the holidays. One of the most popular: Wear your Christmas socks to work day.
What will be in your basket this Black Friday?
TS: You’ve hit on the one big downside for me on Black Friday. While I spend most of the day inside stores and traveling from store to store, it always seems like I don’t get a chance to shop! But that doesn’t stop me from having my own “Get List!” I’m hoping to have a few minutes at the end of the day to get some Harajuku Mini items for my girls. I’m also looking at the Lalaloopsy Crumb’s Bake off- Doll and Kitchen Set, which is a Target exclusive. My husband and I love to work out, so I might pick up some new workout gear for him.
So what time will you get up to prepare for Black Friday?
TS: Get up? For me, it’s always too exciting to even consider going to sleep.