Move over, Alex from Target. A new viral Internet sensation representing the popular retailer has arrived in the form of Westminster resident Scott Simms.
Simms, an employee at the Westminster Target and lifelong Carroll County resident, gave a "300"-inspired pre-Black Friday pep talk as employees prepared for the rush of customers for the store's 6 p.m. Thanksgiving opening, shouting "This is Target!" while standing on a register conveyor belt.
The speech, posted Nov. 27 on YouTube, had garnered more than 400,000 views by 4 p.m. Thursday afternoon.
"I prepared it in my head a little bit during the day. I kind of wanted to do it because every year there's that calm before the storm and it kind of reminded me of '300' or 'Braveheart,'" said Simms, who has worked in the electronics section of the store for four and a half years.
"I did it at the HR office because we had a whole bunch of people waiting to clock in and the store manager was there and asked if I could do the speech at the actual huddle before we open up."
Molly Snyder, a Target spokeswoman, celebrated Simms for his speech.
"One of our favorite parts of the holiday is watching our entire Target team bring the season to life in their own way," she wrote in an emailed statement to the Times. "We want them to have fun, because we know when our team is having fun, so are our guests. Our team member Scott is one of countless team members who help make Target uniquely Target. We have long said that Thanksgiving weekend is to retail what a championship game is to sports. Scott is clearly quite a team player."
Alex from Target became an Internet sensation in November after Twitter's mass of teenage girls deemed him cute and continually retweeted a photo of him. Alex from Target now has roughly 751,000 followers on the social media site.
Simms, who didn't become a hit solely because of his appearance, said the purpose of his speech was to "rouse the troops" and he never expected it to gain the popularity it has.
He has been contacted by Fox News and TMZ, along with a host of other national media outlets.
"It's weird and wonderful," he said. "I never expected it to get this big. I'm basically a 43-year-old bald store clerk."
"I'm really glad there were guys there to record it. I wanted my wife to see it. I knew it would be popular among my friends but the next thing I know I'm on Reddit and then it had over [300,000] views."
Of the few employees who recorded the speech, Chole Frebertshauser, says she was the only one to capture it from start to finish. She's worked at Target for the last three months and posted the video to YouTube.
"It definitely took me by surprise," she said of the overnight popularity. "[Wednesday] I checked it and it had 100 views, [Thursday] I checked it and it was viral. It was a fun little thing I put up there because I thought it was funny."
Frebertshauser, of Union Bridge, said the employees appreciated Simms' speech.
"Scott is a great guy," she said. "He just wanted to amp us up for Black Friday sales and I would say it worked and put us all in good spirits."
Finding inspiration for his speech was easy. Simms channeled his fandom of movies like "300," "Braveheart" and the TV series "Game of Thrones."
"I just love that epic battle type of movie," Simms said.
While Simms enjoyed his first day off Thursday after a 10-day stint of working the holiday rush, his co-workers have reached out to him to congratulate him on his newfound fame.
"They are all being very supportive," he said. "They are all very happy for me. We're a family there. The whole store is so close. I've never had a job with so many people who are close-knit. It's more like family than co-workers. I love it there. I really do."
Frebertshauser agreed that Target has a family feel.
"That's the atmosphere working at Target," she said. "All the team members are so nice, they would give you the shirt off their back."
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Simms is giving thought to delivering another energizing speech next holiday season.
"I might have to do it again. That would be something I would probably start working on around the beginning of next November."
Laughing, he added, "They'll probably want me to do it again."
Reach Sarah Hainesworth at 410-857-7873 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here is the speech Scott Simms gave to his fellow co-workers at the Westminster Target store before it opened at 6 p.m. Thanksgiving night for Black Friday shopping.
"People of Target, brothers, sisters, hear me now. They're standing out there. Any moment now, those doors will be breached. Whatever comes through those gates, you will stand your ground with a smile on your face. They come here with bargains in their heads and fire in their eyes and we shall give those bargains to them. We will show them that we are not just the best store in this neighborhood, but the best store anywhere. Because we are more than just a store. This is a team. This a family. This is Target!"