April’s Fool Day serves as a good reason for marketers and PR people to get a little extra creative…and often silly. However, Trader Joe’s communications department took it one step too far, when the company allowed Yahoo News to prank readers yesterday announcing that it would be closing all of its 457 stores by 2017.

In a press release that surely came as a shock to thousands of company employees and customers, Trader Joe’s CEO Dan Bane said the company would start laying people off at its Florida locations in May of this year:

“The competition has been steeper and steeper every quarter. At this point, there isn’t enough cookie butter in the world to pave the road ahead.”

The authors did include a disclaimer at the end of the article that read: “If this shocking news hits you as hard as it hit me, fear not. It’s merely April 1st. Now go celebrate being a fool with your favorite cheap wine.” Still, most people didn’t get the joke, immediately flooding social media with expressions of frustration and confusion.

In the end, Trader Joe’s joke might have worked too well for the brand’s own good. There is a plethora of fun ways a company can prank the public on April’s Fool Day, but saying Surprise! You’re fired! (especially on March 31) probably isn’t the best way to boost your corporate image.

What do you think? Will Trader Joe’s prank hurt its reputation? Should have Yahoo News published its article on March 31? Let us know in the comment section – we’d love to hear your opinion!