An upstate Target became an unexpected Christmas refuge for trapped customers during the deadly weekend blizzard, with store elves who were stranded themselves jumping into action to save the holiday.
“They said, ‘Anything you need, it’s on us. … Just let us scan it first,’ ” a thankful shopper told the Buffalo News.
About two dozen customers and seven workers became stranded at the store
in suburban Cheektowaga outside of Buffalo on Friday as a historically frigid winter storm began dumping several feet of snow on the region.
The group then spent the next two nights together — with the employees creating a “family” gathering to remember, shopper Carla Rodriguez chronicled in a series of TikTok videos.
“First night wasn’t bad,” she said in a video posted Saturday. “Didn’t get much sleep, the heat was turned off this morning ’cause store is supposed to be closed, so they are trying to get it working. … We are safe, though, and people are warming up.”
Things became more festive as workers provided free food, hot cocoa, water, heaters, blankets, mattresses and coloring books along the way, according to the Buffalo News, which first reported the Yuletide slumber party.
“We now got a TV for the Bills game and some activities. Trying to make the best of today,” Rodriguez said in a Christmas Eve video shot from inside the Starbucks in the store.
Jessica Sypniewski, who was trapped at the store along with her kids and boyfriend, told the outlet of the employees’ actions, “I got so emotional, I just sat down and started crying.
“You never know. People could have died. I truly believe they saved lives,” she said.
Some of the people who were trapped kept busy by playing games such as Uno, watching movies — and taking selfies for the thousands of fascinated people who kept up with their tale on social media.
“If I had to be stranded anywhere, I would pick target!” a TikTok user told Rodriguez after she posted a video showing the fun she was having with washable crayons while enjoying some chocolate milk.
Mark Schindele, an executive vice president at Target, confirmed to The Post in a statement Monday that none of those trapped would have to pay for anything used during the storm.
“Usually when we refer to Tarzhay magic, we’re talking about the kind of products our guests can only find at Target and just can’t live without,” Schindele said.
“On Christmas Eve, that phrase took on a whole new meaning. Thanks to the compassion and quick thinking of the team members at our Walden Galleria store, they were able to provide shelter to those who were stranded, and also offered care, comfort and holiday cheer.
“Their actions are a living example of Target’s values and we are thankful to have been able to assist those in need.”