Target Update

My last blog on the Canadian launch of U.S. super-retailer Target, struck a chord.  I’ve never had so many friends make a point of telling me they’d read one of my posts, and sharing so vehemently their points of view on the topic.  So when I heard that three Target ‘pilot’ stores were opening in Ontario this week, like a moth to a bug zapper, I found myself drawn in.

This past Tuesday, people were lined up outside the Milton store when the doors opened at 8am.  I wonder what they thought when they stepped inside.  Were they dazzled by the brand-spanking new Starbucks in the foyer?  Did they get a little flutter in their chests as they wheeled those virgin red plastic shopping carts from aisle to aisle?  Did they stop to browse the first display of colour grouped costume jewellery, or was their eye caught by something deeper inside?  

Today, my first issue was parking.  Milton Mall is a facility that has seen better days, perhaps constructed at a time when people travelled primarily on foot and by bus?  Side-stepping potholes in the parking lot, I reached a mall entrance and snaked my way past empty storefronts and oddly branded clothing stores featuring footwear of the 3 for $10 variety, towards the Target ‘anchor’ store.  It struck me that Target will either revitalize this mall or prove to be the kiss of death.  No in between. 

Inside Target, it was a zoo.  People packed shoulder to shoulder and a checkout line that was a mile long. At first, I interpreted the empty shelves in the shoe department as a signal that the merchandise must have been remarkable.  But on closer examination I discovered inventory issues everywhere that were more difficult to explain.  I offer exhibit A:

 Target March 2013

This aisle, in the health and beauty aid department, was virtually empty.  I find it hard to believe that the hair elastics and headbands were so fantastic as to result in a Sunday afternoon customer feeding frenzy.  And this wasn’t the only area of the store where I found empty shelves.  Bathroom wastepaper baskets were picked clean, only a smattering of spring handbags remained, and my contact lens solution was out of stock. 

As a ‘pilot’ there are lessons for Target management in this Milton store, and judging from the number of staff scurrying around scanning shelf tags with laser inventory devices, I’m betting that they’re doing their best to learn them.

I hold out hope that the store’s official grand openings this spring are going to be spectacular.  My advice to shoppers, is to let these ‘pilot’ stores practice on other people…. Like sneaking a peek at my Christmas presents, my visit left me wishing I’d waited for the big day.


4 thoughts on “Target Update

  1. Last week while my girl friend and I were driving through the back roads home from Collingwood we stumbled upon a Target. Maureen has always been a faithful Target shopper when ever she travels south of the boarder. We contemplated stopping but were weary from our travels and decided to stay on the road. I am glad we did not make the pit stop! Thanks for checking it out Diane.

  2. Interesting, Diane. Does it seem like similar stores, e.g. Wal-Mart, Target, etc. all stock the same products/brands, some at higher prices, other items a bit more, hoping we will stay on site and not make a separate trip to a different store? I notice this in grocery stores too. If this is the case, and we have the time, it is worth it to make a list, stick to the on sale items, and move on. Sounds like a retired person’s strategy that we used to laugh at.
    It appears that you will have Target there before we do out West. No hint of pilot stores in Victoria. Kevin and I were at Brentwood Town Centre in Burnaby on the weekend and they still had a Zeller’s store open for its final days of shopping. I believe that store’s last day is March 14th.
    I guess the question is, “How much is atmosphere worth to the shopper?” Will they pay slightly more for the same item at Target to have a Starbuck’s coffee at the same time? I confess that I haven’t shopped at Target much. If I am travelling, and need something like dental floss, I will slip in, have a quick look around, buy what I came in for and get out. The merchandise looks the same as what Wal-Mart offers. I assume the clothing lines are different, but for toiletry items Target, Wal-Mart, and drug store/pharmacies all seem to sell the same product except for their house brand.
    Love, Winnie

  3. Agree. One of the big clothing brands they seemed to carry was Cherokee, which is the same as Zellers. But I will say that Taylor picked out a cute tank top for herself that seemed to be higher quality, but still only $8. The brand was Massimo. Chi chi oui oui!

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