The day after Thanksgiving is one of the biggest shopping days of the year. On Black Friday, shoppers flock to the stores to get deals on everything from TVs and gaming systems to clothes and furniture, attempting to get their holiday shopping done as cheap as possible.
The early hours, mixed with the enticing deals, can drive shoppers mad. Fights break-out between customers, injuries occur, workers are screamed and cursed at, and by the end of the day, store shelves are empty and the employees are left with a disaster zone to clean up.
One Lake County woman saw what the employees of these stores were dealing with every year and wanted a way to put a smile on their faces during the chaotic day.
Stephanie Tinner started Operation Smile after heading out for her own Black Friday shopping trip at 5 a.m. a few years back. She saw the lines and craziness and felt bad for the people outside waiting to shop, but her thoughts quickly shifted to the people inside the store about to be hit with a wave of bargain shoppers.
Tinner’s husband, a former manager at a Toys R Us, told her horror stories of what it was like to work on Black Friday. Tinner decided she wanted to come up with a way to make the employees' hectic work day a little happier. She figured the best way to put a smile on their faces would be to deliver them smiles.
Tinner began by purchasing Eat’n Park’s famous Smiley Cookies and delivering them to 40 businesses on Black Friday in 2014.
Since starting Operation Smile four years ago, Tinner has massively expanded her organization to something bigger than she ever imagined.
Tinney said this year, Operation Smile will be delivering 1,800 cookies to 150 businesses. Volunteers from around the community have helped fully fund the cookies and deliver them on Black Friday.
Next year, Operation Smile will have a new partner — the supplier of the cookies.
Eat’n Park will partner up with Operation Smile to fully fund and provide the cookies that Tinney and her team will deliver in 2019.
The chaos of Black Friday is inevitable, but Tinney and Operation Smile are making sure the employees working during the madness can do so with a cookie in their hand and a smile on their face.