Michael Hoffacker and Michael Roedel weren’t expecting to make the news when they went on a Target run.
But what started as an ordinary shopping trip became newsworthy when they were denied the purchase of a Pride onesie for their 10-month-old son.
“A Target team member walked over and she let us know that that item should have been pulled from the shelves and it had a ‘Do Not Sell’ on it and they would not be able to sell us the item,” Hoffacker told WPBF.
According to the news station, the couple saw the Pride onesie while picking up other items for their son and added it to their cart. Unfortunately, when they were running their purchases through the self-check-out, the onesie sent an alert that brought an employee to the register. It turns out the couple would not be able to buy the clothing.
“We said that that was unreasonable. [The manager] told us if she were to sell us the item, she would probably lose her job,” Hoffacker said.
Just a week before Pride Month began, Target pulled some Pride apparel from its stores as a result of threats against employees — including bomb threats in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Utah. A South Florida store employee told the Washington Post that while wearing a safety vest over a Pride shirt, a customer asked him, “Oh, is that so I could shoot you easier?”
Those against the items have called them “grooming,” “sexualization of children,” and “shoving your woke agenda down our throats.” The Pride collection has been a part of the Target shopping experience for a decade now, but there has not appeared to be backlash to this level until now.
“Since introducing this year's collection, we've experienced threats impacting our team members' sense of safety and well-being while at work,” the company wrote in a statement. “Given these volatile circumstances, we are making adjustments to our plans, including removing items that have been at the center of the most significant confrontational behavior.”
It appears, however, that not all items had been removed from displays and shoppers like Hoffacker and Roedel were unable to purchase items they thought were available. On Twitter, shoppers shared videos of trying to buy items that were not in fact available.
Compass community center shared their disappointment with Target’s experience in a post on Facebook.
“For years, national and international brands have enthusiastically taken the money of LGBTQ+ people during Pride month. Our community has happily supported companies that promote equality and diversity. Now, during an alarming rise in hatred from a very SMALL, but loud group of people, it is time for those companies to take a stand and prove it isn't all about profit.”