Target: The New Kid In Town

There’s a new kid coming to town and the reaction from other stores is palpable, particularly Walmart. They seem to be scrambling to get ahead of the expected exodus to its classy, younger cousin all dressed up and ready in red.

And I’m thrilled with their sudden concern about our shopping experience. Walmart in Lakewood has been taking us for granted for way too long, and I mean no disrespect to the locals who work hard there to support themselves and their families. But, come on! A multi-billion dollar corporation like Walmart couldn’t send over new carts any sooner? They couldn’t open a few more check-out lines? Couldn’t resist the temptation to gloss over our receipts on the way out the door after making us check ourselves out in the self check-out line? If you’re so worried about us stealing, Walmart, hire a few more cashiers.

I think everyone but my husband is excited about Target’s grand opening on the 13th of August. He said, “You seem to manage to spend enough money shopping without a Target in town.”

Let’s face it, Target is not the kind of store you run into for a loaf of bread. It’s hard to resist the Target Effect, which is the thing that happens when you walk in Target’s door for a bag of dog biscuits and an hour later you’re pushing a full cart out the door, with a new queen comforter, a box of organic soaps in the shape of hearts, a black metal outdoor lantern, and a latex-free blender sponge for makeup.

Let’s face it, we’re all in big trouble. We’ll be setting up a new chapter of Target’s Anonymous within the year. Is it possible to overcome the Target Effect without resorting to drastic measures?

It just so happens there’s a Louisville-based licensed clinical psychologist named Kevin Chapman, and he helps chronic shoppers. He told NBC news that yes, it can be done. We can go into Target and restrain ourselves, you know, like normal human beings.

First, he says, you have to understand how this effect works: in short, it just feels good to be in Target. “The lighting, the bright colors … it brightens your affect and you tend to have a pretty good time so it’s conducive to buying,” Chapman said. Of course, being able to stop at Starbucks for a vanilla crËme cold brew can also induce us to spend more time, he said. Spending more time translates to spending more money — and buying things we didn’t intend to. So, don’t buy the fancy coffee when you walk into Target, folks. It’ll just give you more stamina to waltz up and down those aisles.

Target is also very clever at placing things in strategic places to boost cross-selling, and many stores now are rolling out lifestyle settings that help shoppers visualize the goods in their own homes.

The upside of this is that we are all going to have super cute homes. I can picture thousands of houses in our area boasting glamorous outdoor umbrellas, faux rabbit fur throw pillows on our couches, beautiful food storage containers in our refrigerators, and weighted blankets for cold winter days. I’m looking forward to a washable runner rug myself.

For me, my strategy for not overspending at Target is to bring my husband. And while he’s a wonderful human being, he takes the joy right out of shopping. First off, he mopes when he’s with me in a store. He seems to be trying to tell other shoppers that he’s been kidnapped and is being forced to shop against his will. He probably leaves notes in the bathroom on a dollar bill that say, “Help, I’ve been kidnapped. Please call the police.”

Next, if I’m looking at one thing that is similar to something we have at home, he becomes the knick knack police. “Step away from the Gingham Bamboo-Melamine Tumbler Set in blue and cream,” he’ll say. “We don’t need one more glass in our cupboard.”

“But they’re cute,” I’ll tell him.

His idea of shopping is finding hunting boots and big bags of mixed nuts in giant discount stores that have the word “Lots” in the name. And he loves to stand in the basement once a year pointing out all the stuff we’re donating that seemed “cute” when I was buying them,

But go have fun in Target, really. It’s nice to have something new. We like defining who we are with the things we bring home and display and use in our homes. And we’re all about to look a little spiffier in the days ahead.

And if shopping becomes a problem? You can borrow my husband. He’s had a lot of practice getting out of stores with our retirement funds intact.


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