Last week, for a minute, K-Mart General Manager Eric Smith was starting to sweat.
The City Council's Safety Services and Licenses Committee seemed poised to reject the store's request for permission to open at midnight on Black Friday.
"Without a plan for security and moving people, with the crowds anticipated, I can't approve this," said Councilman Anthony Lupino.
Councilman Paul Archetto asked if Smith's store ever had a special opening time for Black Friday sales, to which Smith said "no." Archetto also said he's concerned about lights and noise affecting nearby residents and was "hesitant" to approve the midnight opening request.
When Lupino asked what the store's maximum capacity was, Smith said he didn't know off the top of his head.
But Smith promised that K-Mart will pay for not one, but two Cranston police officers to be at the doors. He also agreed to meet with the Fire Department to talk about a security plan and what measures will be taken to ensure the building does not go over capacity and people flow in and out smoothly. The store will also pay an employee to stand at the door and keep track of how many people enter and exit to prevent overcrowding.
Ultimately, the committee approved the request, including Lupino, who suggested the store pay for two police details instead of just one.
In an e-mail message, Lupino said he is not "anti-business" but "am for protecting the safety of our citizens. The manager came ill-prepared for his request; surprising given he represents a multi-billion-dollar-business."
The Cranston K-Mart is located on Garfield Avenue and it's just one of eight stores across the entire chain not opening on Thanksgiving Day thanks to blue laws that prohibit the practice in Rhode Island.
Lupino said his primary concern was safety. He noted the store is one of the few K-Marts in the area and if the store has big sales on some products, known as loss-leaders, the crowd could grow huge if those products are highly desirable. It is likely that people will travel from all across the region to be there when the doors open at midnight.
In other business, the committee approved a similar license for the Walmart on Plainfield Pike and an all-night license for Ocean State Job Lot.
Updated Nov. 20, 8:38 a.m.: The original version of this story incorrectly stated that Lupino voted against the request. Lupino did vote for the request and the story has been updated to reflect that.