The best thing a company could ever hope for is to trigger the gatherer response in our species’ brains that sends the masses into a frenzy, scouring stores for the opportunity to fork over their hard-earned cash for a product they could, in all evidence, live without.
Oftentimes, it’s an item that, in the not too distant future they will look at and wonder to themselves, “Why was I working myself up in such a tizzy over this thing?” or maybe they’ll just feel nothing at all as they wait for the next big thing.
For some people it’s whenever Supreme releases a hoodie, for others, it’s whenever a new color in a Nike-style sneaker that’s been produced for decades hits the market, and for others its stainless-steel cups with a handle and straw affixed to them, so folks can enjoy cold beverages for extended periods of time built by a specific manufacturer that’s known to make thermos kits: Stanley 1913.
Recently, a bunch of Stanley… stans went apesh*t over limited-edition color options as part of Target’s 2024 Valentine’s Day collection. The hues, Cosmo Pink and Target Red, are exclusive to the retailer for the holiday dedicated to celebrating everlasting love between two people, and are purportedly causing “chaos” at Target stores where folks camped out prior to the store’s opening for a shot at buying the limited edition goblet. Some shoppers even got into fights while waiting on line for the cup, hearkening us back to the days of COVID where toilet paper brawls were popping up in the news.
One TikToker even lamented their bad luck after spotting one of the cups on the shelves prior to its official sale date. When they tried to ring the cup up at self-checkout, they were met with an error stating that they weren’t allowed to purchase the cup until a specific date and time. This prompted a litany of different “hack” suggestions from other users on the app, but it doesn’t seem she walked away with the cup at that time.
And according to another TikTok user, Susy Balbuena (@suszii3), they caught a Target worker trying to keep one of these vaunted limited edition Stanley mugs for themselves by hiding them away so they could purchase it while they were off shift.
@suszii3 Lets see how long it last on the shelf 🙃 #stanleycup #pinkstanleytarget #targetfinds #fyp #viral ♬ Just A Girl – No Doubt
Balbuena posted about the crafty Target worker, writing in a text overlay on her clip: “POV: You saw an employee trying to hide the Stanley for themselves so you put it back out of the floor,” as she records herself walking up to a shelf and pulling out a Target Red mug mug that was wedged between what appears to be boxes. She then relocated it to another shelf full of other portable traveling mugs, none of which looked like the limited edition cups so many shoppers are currently losing their minds over.
“Lets see how long it last on the shelf,” she adds in a caption for the video. Numerous commenters who replied to her clip expressed their dislike for what Balbuena did. One user on the app wrote: “You must be such a fun person”
And then there were folks who speculated other scenarios that could explain why the cup was being hidden, like one person who penned: “Or that could be someone’s curbside pick up order,” and another who said that the employee may have already paid for the cup but was simply hiding it as they didn’t get a chance to put it in the back because they were tending to other timely work duties: “What if she already paid for it and kept it on her cart because she didn’t have time to put it in the break room?”
Another person asked if the cup was for curbside pickup, but Balbuena asserted that it was not and responded them explaining why this was the case in the comments section of her clip: “It wasn’t babe it was in a cart to push out to the floor. Took it so I could fulfill my pickup orders instead of canceling them”
It also seemed like some TikTok users didn’t think there was anything wrong with an employee ensuring that they had a little something-something for themselves: “I work at H-E-B if I see something cute for myself, I’ll take it to my cart and pay it in my break. We are all girlies in the end of the day,” they wrote.
There have been instances of shoppers calling out retail workers for holding onto hard-to-find items, like this Gamestop worker who was saving a Pit Amiibo for themselves, much to this redditor’s chagrin.
What do you think about this practice? Should workers acknowledge that paying customers get first dibs no matter what? Or is one of the unspoken “perks” of working in retail the understanding that if an employee wants to keep a limited edition item for themselves off to the side so they can purchase it at the end of their shift or when payday hits, what’s the harm?
The Daily Dot has reached out to Target via email and Balbuena via TikTok comment for further information.