Retail Employees, Shoppers Fight Black Thursday Openings

The other side of Black Friday shopping.

ByABC News
November 16, 2011, 7:48 AM

Nov. 16, 2011— -- While many Americans are eager to take advantage of Black Thursday and Black Friday sales, Target employee Anthony Hardwick would rather spend time with his family and started a petition to urge his employer and its competitors to stay closed on turkey day.

Hardwick's petition on has about 100,000 signatures requesting Target open its doors at 5 a.m. on the day after Thanksgiving rather than at midnight, which requires Hardwick, 29, and other employees to get to work at 11 p.m. Target announced it would stay open from midnight to 11 p.m. on Black Friday.

"A full holiday with family is not just for the elite of this nation -- all Americans should be able to break bread with loved ones and get a good night's rest on Thanksgiving!" he wrote in the petition. "Join me in calling for Target retail stores to push back their original opening time of 5am on Black Friday."

Molly Snyder, a spokeswoman for Target, said Hardwick has never been scheduled to work on Thanksgiving or Black Friday. In early November, he informed his managers that he was scheduled to work at his other job on Black Friday and indicated that he needed the day off from Target, she said.

"We honored that request," she said in an email to ABC News. "Target does our best to work around the schedules of all of our team members, making every effort to accommodate their requests."

She added that Target will offer holiday pay to all hourly "team members" who work on Thanksgiving Day.

"Black Friday is one of the busiest and most competitive shopping days of the year," she said. "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."

Hardwick said it was "bologna" that retail employees could not work on Black Friday if they choose.

"No one in retail requests Black Friday off and gets it. It's a blacked out date," he said.

Hardwick said he did not request Black Friday off and if his employer called to request that he work that day, he would comply "and not let my team members down."

When asked why he was not required to work on Black Friday, Hardwick said, "I guess if you start a petition and raise a national media stink" he made clear his preference.

"I didn't start this for my own personal gain," he said. "I started it for my team members and retail employees around the country."

Other stores have one-upped the midnight opening time. Toys "R" Us will open at 9 p.m. on Thanksgiving night for the first time, the retailer announced on Monday. Walmart announced earlier this month its stores will open at 10 p.m.

Meanwhile, Best Buy, Gap, Old Navy, Banana Republic, Macy's, Kohl's and Target are embracing a midnight schedule.

Hardwick has been a parking attendant for three years in Omaha, Neb., initially working full-time. Now he works part-time at the retailer and also has a second part-time retail job.

The holiday is significant for Hardwick, who says he proposed to his now-fiancee during Thanksgiving last year.

He first decided to start a petition after reading about a petition started by 22-year-old Bank of America canceled the planned fee earlier this month.

With only one week to go until Thanksgiving, thousands have signed Hardwick's petition.