When you show up at your favorite store on Thanksgiving night looking for that big deal on a smart TV, you will probably be too busy to think about all the work—and science—that went into prepping the place, from putting up signage, to laying out and replenishing the merchandise, to establishing safety protocols.
For a big-box store like Target (TGT), it takes pretty much a small village to make the Black Thanksgiving/Black Friday shopping extravaganza go off without a hitch.
One such village is the 170,000-square-foot Target store in Westbury, N.Y., where Tony Roman, senior group vice president overseeing the retailer’s stores in Greater New York, gave Fortune a tour this week ahead of Thanksgiving. (Target stores open at 6 p.m. on the holiday.)
Below, in loosely chronological order, is how this Target gets ready in the days before Thanksgiving evening.
1. The calm before the storm
2. Earlier in the week: Starting to put the Black Friday hot sellers on the floor
Some items that Target will push over the Black Friday weekend need more room in the store, often encroaching on space normally given to other products. Take these microwaves. The retailer will stock 40 of them on an area in heavily trafficked aisle that normally holds bedding. But it will also stock the ovens where they normally live (see below), so regulars know where to look for them. And that area is also near their temporary home so that it’s easy for staff to replenish the stock.
Target this year has added maps for each store to its app so shoppers can find where the deals are, given that many items won’t be in their usual place.
3. Earlier in the week: Changing the merchandise it showcases at the end of an aisle
4. Already done : Stacking the hot sellers like toys and TVs on the floor
5. Unloading extra trucks for the bonanza
6. Wednesday afternoon: Setting up the barricades for shoppers who will line up on Thanksgiving
7. Overnight into Thanksgiving: Setting up the hot areas like the iPad store and install the signate
Apple’s (AAPL) iPad will be a hot item this Black Friday weekend, and Target is giving it its own specific line, and cash registers so things move swiftly, and don’t impede customers shopping for something else. There will be balloons to alert shoppers to the iPad area. The temporary iPad lines will be set up overnight Wednesday.
During the wee hours, shoppers will be putting up signage throughout the store indicating to customers to what’s on sale. (The bin in the picture will not feature picture frames on Black Friday. These bins usually hold softer items like bedding or pillows.)
8. Thursday afternoon: Handing out tickets to guarantee the hottest items
On Thursday afternoon, Target workers will go visit customers waiting in line and hand out tickets to those wanting to buy either of the two hot TVs the retailer is offering deals on so they are guaranteed one. The idea is to free them up to shop more and not worry about getting the TV first, or risk having the shoppers leave as soon as they get the TV.
“In the past, guests would come in, get a TV, get in line, and couldn’t continue to shop—this time, they will be able to,” said Roman.
9. Thursday late afternoon: 100 or so Target staff get ready for show time
Target will staff as many as 100 people at a time in shifts over the big shopping weekend. (Wal-Mart Stores (WMT) has promised to staff every single cash register in the U.S. during peak times, so Target needs to similarly be ready.)
Soon before 6 p.m., the first shift of workers will start what will be a 30-hour shopping blitz. Show time.