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LAKE PARK, Fla. (WFLA) – A gay couple in West Palm Beach is calling on Target to “be better” after they said a store in Florida didn’t allow them to purchase a Pride onesie while shopping for their baby.
After the “infuriating” incident, Michael Hoffacker and Michael Roedel said they’re “demanding that the company reverse” its decision to pull some of its Pride merchandise ahead of June, which is Pride month.
According to WPBF, the couple stopped at a Target store in Lake Park Saturday to pick up baby formula, diapers and shop for some clothes. However, Hoffacker and Roedel said they left the store feeling “shocked” and “emotional” after being denied a purchase.
The couple told WPBF that an employee and manager told them they “couldn’t buy a Pride-themed onesie” that was being displayed in the store’s Pride section.
“We were pretty shocked,” Hoffacker told WPBF.
The news outlet reported that Hoffacker and Roedel went to check out using the self-checkout lane. When the couple scanned the 12-month Pride-themed onesie, they said the checkout screen “showed an alert that an employee was on the way.” WPBF said the onesie had a tag and barcode attached to it.
“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.
Hoffacker went on to say that he was “confident” that since the onesie was there, they would “be able to actually purchase it.” He shared with WPBF that he also thought they’d be able to talk one of the managers into letting them purchase the onesie.
But the store refused to sell it to the couple. The manager even told them she “would probably lose her job” if she sold them the item. Hoffacker and Roedel said their 10-month-old son was in the store with them when the incident unfolded.
The couple told WPBF that the Target manager went on to tell them their “only option was to call an 800-number.” When the couple called, Target representatives told them nothing could be done.
Following the incident, the couple sent a letter to Target’s CEO, board of directors, along with other officials, calling Target to reverse its decision to pull some Pride merch ahead of the start of Pride month.
Target released a statement on May 24 regarding the company’s decision to pull some of its Pride items, saying they’ve decided to remove items “that have been at the center of the most significant confrontational behavior.” The company said the decision came after stores experienced threats following the introduction of this year’s Pride collection.
“For more than a decade, Target has offered an assortment of products aimed at celebrating Pride Month. Since introducing this year’s collection, we’ve experienced threats impacting our team members’ sense of safety and well-being while at work. 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. Our focus now is on moving forward with our continuing commitment to the LGBTQIA+ community and standing with them as we celebrate Pride Month and throughout the year.”
According to WPBF, Hoffack and Roedel said the incident Saturday was “a pretty painful and emotional moment.”
“It was a pretty painful and emotional moment,” Hoffacker told WPBF. “I’ve never actually felt restricted from my rights as a gay man through being in college to when I came out until now, I mean, this was one of the moments when I felt like I didn’t have the rights that I deserved to have. It was very uncomfortable.”
Roedel added that the situation was “infuriating,” adding that Target needs to be better and be an ally to the LGBTQ+ community, especially during these times.
“Infuriating,” Roedel told WPBF. “That says it all. Infuriating…Target, in this moment, is wrong. They need to be better and they need to be a better ally in this community and especially in a situation where our family is there, trying to celebrate who we are in a very, very historic and proud, prideful June, and we’re there having a team lead, a manager at Target, tell us we can’t buy a product to actually celebrate our community”
Roedel continued, “Target needs to do better because we are as big of a community as anybody else out there with a right to shop in their stores, and when they take merchandise away from us in this way it’s hurtful and it’s infuriating and it makes us feel less than. And, that’s just not OK from a brand we supported for so long.”