Unpopular Opinion: I Don’t Love Target as Much as Everyone Else

The bullseye just doesn’t hit the mark for me.

Target is a trap. If mouse traps existed for moms, the big-box retailer with 2,000 locations across 50-states, would be just that – except instead of cheese, its bait is Starbucks. Before you even step foot in the store, you can smell the pumpkin spice lattes brewing inside. The lure of getting everything you need in one place, plus the strategic layout that almost forces you to look around and get more than just “one thing,” adds to its appeal.

Did I mention celebrity home collections and exclusive merchandise? Alas, there are no quick trips here. This phenomenon is what’s being referred to as “The Target Effect.” Much like the “upside down” alternative universe in the Netflix show Stranger Things, Target acts as some sort of vortex to another world – and no one is safe.

Suddenly, you’re sipping on your lukewarm latte while strolling out the door with 17-reusable bags strung around your arm, excitedly telling friends about all the cool things you found at “Tar-jay.” And if you think it can’t happen to you, think again – it happens to all of us.

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People have referred to it as a “black hole,” while others on social media claim that the store has some kind of magical superpowers allowing it to just suck you in, and spit you back out — having spent A LOT more cash than you intended.

There are entire social media accounts dedicated to Target finds that are unaffiliated with the brand— one of which, has 1.3 million followers alone. That’s a lot of Target lovers. Saturday Night Live even parodied the store with its hilarious “Target Lady” skit, in which Kristen Wiig portrays a red-vested cashier who loves everything she sees on the conveyor belt so much, she asks the customer what aisle she can find it in. She then suddenly flees mid-transaction, leaving the customer baffled, and viewers ROFL.

The retailer itself has some impressive stats. It rakes in about $72 billion dollars a year in sales, and has 30-million followers on social media.

As a busy mom-of-four, I can certainly understand the allure of a one-stop-shop. While I have spent a pretty penny there over the years, it’s now a place I regularly avoid. Why? Because I can get the same stuff elsewhere, for cheaper. There, I said it. Most (I said most, not all) of the merch you find at Target, you can also find at places like Walmart or Amazon, and often for less.

And I’m not just making this stuff up. It’s actually been studied. By really smart people. In 2018, LendEDU compared 50-identical prices from the two stores to see which had the best pricing and value, and Walmart was deemed the winner. However, it was noted, that Tar-jay provides a more  “upgraded” shopping experience than its competitor. So, essentially, you’re paying for atmosphere. Much like choosing that fancy Japanese restaurant with the hibachi tables, versus the grab-n-go sushi platters at the grocery store.

Also, by practicing avoidance, I am not tempted to splurge on any items I really just don’t need (like that mustard-colored felt hat that my son told me I looked like a Cowboy in, but still had to have it anyway because it just screamed Fall).

In any event, if you still plan to shop at Target, don’t say I didn’t warn you. You might end up with some good finds but your credit, upside-down. 

Jené Luciani Sena
Jené Luciani Sena is an accredited journalist and internationally-renowned bestselling author, regularly seen on national TV outlets such as Access Daily, Today and Dr Oz. Touted as one of Woman’s World Magazine’s “Ultimate Experts,” she’s a TEDTalk speaker and a busy Mom of 4. Read more
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