When does a city council get involved in Black Friday?

When it starts on Thursday

Luke Reiter
news editor

Black Friday bargain-hunters have one more thing to be thankful for this year: the City of Inver Grove Heights will allow Walmart to remain open continuously from Thanksgiving Day into the day after to maximize holiday shopping hours.

The Inver Grove Heights Walmart is normally restricted to 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. hours as part of an agreement struck with developers in 2003, when the store was built, to appease residents in the area.

Under the current terms, Walmart is allowed to open at 5 a.m. the morning after Thanksgiving.

Two ‘no’ votes,then a yes

Store management first requested permission to remain open from Thanksgiving into Black Friday in 2009 in order to keep up with increasingly earlier opening hours on the popular holiday shopping weekend, but was voted down by the city council. The council voted down the same request in 2011, but granted a one-time exception in 2012.

According to Community Development Coordinator Tom Link, Wal-Mart seems to be the only store for which the city stipulates hours of operation.

Council member Dennis Madden made clear that while he intended to vote in favor of Walmart, his decision was not motivated by holiday cheer.

“I was all for turning them down in 2009 and 2011,” Madden said. “I just think it’s a disgrace that these stores are open on Thanksgiving. I think it’s a disgrace those people have to work. They should be home with their families.”

Council member Rosemary Piekarski Krech also denounced the move, saying that while stores are trending towards increasing earlier openings for Black Friday, Walmart seems to be only one in the city that will remain open from Thanksgiving into Black Friday.

“Being how most of the other stores are closed and are opening at that time, I’m not really supportive,” Piekarski Krech said. “When we negotiated the deal to allow Walmart to come in there, it was something for the neighborhood and the people that we would not have a 24-hour store.”

Mayor heard complaints

Mayor George Tourville defended the request, however, saying he didn’t believe one day of 24-hour operation per year undermined the concerns of nearby residents.

“A couple of years when we didn’t allow the store to be open people complained and said, ‘What’s wrong with Inver Grove Heights? We can’t get the same deal here we can get somewhere else,’” Tourville said. “I’m not going to make the values judgment of where people should be or shouldn’t be in reference to going out to shop or not to shop or work or not to work, because that’s an individual decision.”

The council voted 4-1 to allow the exception, with Piekarski Krech dissenting. After the vote, Luke Nordquist, branch manager, told the council he may seek a permanent update for the restrictions for Black Friday to avoid the need for an annual debate.

“I would like to present it to be a consistent thing so we don’t have to come before you every year,” Nordquist said. “I think that would just make sense.”

Madden, however, made clear his support of the 24-hour shopping day was to ensure parity among shopping destinations, and not out of sympathy to Black Friday traditions.

“We have to allow it,” Madden said. “I just think it’s a shame that they want to do this.”

Luke Reiter can be reached at lreiter@lillienews.com or at 651-748-7815.

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