Traditions collide
Local stores promote holiday closures as retailers promote Thanksgiving deals

By Katherine Michalets - Freeman Staff

Nov. 25, 2015

Tents line the sidewalk outside the Best Buy store in Delafield on Monday, nearly a week before Black Friday. Best Buy will open at 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day.
Charles Auer/Freeman Staff

WAUKESHA - More and more frequently, two traditions collide in the United States on Thanksgiving: enjoying a turkey dinner with family and getting great deals on gifts and electronics. As a result, there is a group of retailers promoting their stores being closed on Thanksgiving Day with as much fervor as companies who are heralding the great deals to be had on the holiday.

With customers already camping out in front of Best Buy in Delafield, Gary Steinhafel, president of family owned Steinhafels, said their employees work so hard year round that they want to make sure they have time with their families.

“We feel strongly that Thanksgiving is a holiday that needs to be spent with the family,” Steinhafel said.

Steinhafels will be closed on Thanksgiving Day.
Charles Auer/Freeman Staff

During the year, Steinhafels furniture store locations are open on weekends, at night and on many holidays.

“We felt strongly that Thanksgiving is a really special family day,” he said, adding that Black Friday is a busy day for the stores so giving employees Thursday off allows them to be restored, relaxed and productive Friday.

While most Black Friday shoppers focus on the great deals at stores such as Target, Walmart and Best Buy, even small businesses like Neptune Comics in Waukesha feel the pressure.

“Basically you see all of the people go to big box stores and you hope they don’t spend all of their money and are able to spend a little to support us,” said Neptune Comics owner Craig Lopacinski. “The little guys like us get pushed out of the equation.”

Blain's Farm & Fleet will be closed on Thanksgiving Day.
Charles Auer/Freeman Staff

Neptune Comics will open an hour earlier Friday at 10 a.m. The business will also have specials, such as 20 percent off action figures or buy-one, get-one half off on graphic novels Friday. Lopacinski said the specials will be extended to the next day, Small Business Saturday.

Other national stores closed Thanksgiving are TJ Maxx, Barnes & Noble, and very notably, REI, which also will be closed Friday in an effort to get people outside. The nation’s largest co-op and specialty outdoor retailer informed its 5.5 million members in a letter its intent to be closed those days at all 143 locations, including in Brookfield.

Trending online is the REI-generated hashtag: #OptOutside, which intends to reconnect people with family and friends.

“Black Friday is the perfect time to remind ourselves of the essential truth that life is richer, more connected and complete when you choose to spend it outside,” said REI President and CEO Jerry Stritzke in a statement. “We’re closing our doors, paying our employees to get out there, and inviting America to OptOutside with us because we love great gear, but we are even more passionate about the experiences it unlocks.”

Another retailer that announced its plans to be closed on Thanksgiving Day is Blain’s Farm and Fleet, which has a location in Waukesha.

“Our company wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for strong family values and traditions,” said CEO and owner Jane Blain Gilbertson in a statement. “So it goes without saying that we will close our doors on holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas. These are special days meant to be spent with family and friends and I want to give that opportunity to the 4,000 associates who work hard year round for our company.”

There are other locally operated stores that will be open for shoppers on the holiday, including Pick ‘n Save.

James Hyland, vice president of investor relations, corporate communications and public affairs for Pick ‘n Save’s parent company, Roundy’s, Inc., said its stores will be open until 3 p.m. Thanksgiving Day so customers can make last-minute purchases for their celebrations.

“These hours are traditional hours for us on Thanksgiving Day and have been in place for at least the last 20 years,” he said in an email.

Kohl’s stores will open at 6 p.m. Thanksgiving Day. Company spokeswoman Melanie Hochschild said “Shopping over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend has become a much-anticipated tradition enjoyed with friends and family.”

Hochschild said Kohl’s opens on Thanksgiving as a “convenience to our customers who want to make Kohl’s their first stop.”

Steinhafel said he knows that his company may miss out on some sales by not being open on Thanksgiving Day, but it is committed to being closed on the holiday.

Steinhafels locations will open 8 a.m. Friday and employees will need to arrive between 7 a.m. and 7:30 a.m., Steinhafel said, but because the staff will be prepared ahead of the sales they won’t need to get there too early.