Thursday, March 19, 2015


Target Canada closing is a real shame. It’s too bad about the jobs (really too bad), but what bugs me the most is there was potential for them to do well. The first month they were open I had the opportunity to do a thorough comparison of the two targets (USA versus Canada). I spent an hour wandering through Target USA in Bellingham, WA, noting layout and stock and pricing (this was done purely for fun – I sure do love me some Target), and the next day I spent an hour systematically wandering through Target Canada in Delta, BC noting the same three things. What I noticed impressed me – the layout was the same (virtually identical), the stock was the same (in that store) and the pricing was super comparable (despite our lower dollar and high taxes). I left Target feeling very optimistic about Targets  chances here in Canada. Unfortunately I noticed shortly that all Targets in Canada were not created equal – and brand equality or consistency is vital in a stores success. For example, I discovered that Target in smaller towns (like Nanaimo) were often better laid out or stocked than in high volume places like Metrotown – and it’s not that Metrotown was just out of stuff because of high volume, often they just didn’t have the stuff other store had. I discovered that Surrey and Delta and Nanaimo (to name a few) had wonderful Targets but that Target in Richmond, Burnaby and other places didn’t compare at all. And that’s what was so surprising to me – why so different? Even in Victoria – the Tillicum Target was only decently laid out – mostly the same but not quite right, and yet the Hillside Target was really well laid out and stocked. Why this disparity?

Target also struggled because of its customers. Somehow Canada was expecting something different. I’m not sure what most Canadians thought Target was, but it was clear to me that they didn’t get it. I would hear Canadians (even ones that lived near the good Targets) bemoan it’s arrival and how poorly it was appointed and a lot of what they complained about was never going to happen! I mean even Target USA didn’t have some of what they wanted – there was a confusion on what Target offered originally in the states. Many of the people who complained about Target weren’t people who frequented Target USA, so they were basing their complaints off of what they were used to – a comparison to Superstore or Walmart – two stores that are not a fair comparison. Both Superstore and Walmart are very different to Target, and more similar to each other. They come in at a lower price point, and while often you can get neat things there (and some cool design stuff, especially at Superstore), they are a bit lower end than Target is. Target is the next step up – it’s the people of Walmart trying to reinvent themselves into something a bit fancier. The pricepoint is higher and the quality is higher. Canadians expected Target to match what we have come to expect from these two stores and that was never going to happen – it’s not the niche that Target was trying to fill.

There was a real place for Target to fill here in Canada – often it’s quality was higher (and price point lower) than something like Bed, Bath & Beyond or Jysk. It had all the great, inexpensive, design options that HomeSense or Marshalls offer mixed with the consistency that a bigger chain brings – you could go back and get the same clothes or house goods since Target is a more traditional shopping experience. It offered a similar one stop shop that Superstore and Walmart offered (admittedly with a worse food section), but with higher design and quality options (of course for a higher price).

My sister moved at the holidays and as she decorated her new home half the items have come from Target – she’s understandably very sad about it’s departure from Canada. The items were reasonably priced (this was before the sales started) and look great in her new home. Target offered great, trendy options for the home at decent prices. I’ve continued to love shopping at Target – both in Canada and the USA – for clothing. Maternity and non-maternity items are amazing. 1/3rd of my pregnancy wardrobe is from Target (the rest from Old Navy & Motherhood Maternity).

For me, my sadness is dulled by the reality that I cross border shop almost monthly, so Bellingham Target will continue to give me my Target fill – but I’ll admit I’ll miss shopping Canadian and supporting Canadians jobs while getting my fill of Target. It was nice knowing I didn’t have to think about how much I could take back over the border, or what the exchange rate was.  My sadness is also tempered by the sweet discounts that are starting to be rolled out at Target (don’t even get me started on Canadian complaints of how low the discounts at Target currently are – you remember this is exactly how Zellers rolled out their liquidation, yes? And that we want Target to be able to pay off it’s Canadian debts to the best of it’s ability??) – I look forward to getting even more deals in the coming months as Targets time in Canada comes to a close. 

A last note: Canadians! The store was red and white! Really, we should have supported it for that alone. RED AND WHITE. Those are our colors people. Geez. What more did we want from them?

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1 comment:

Mrs. R said...

I completely agree. I loved target. Everything was actually in trend to the U.S. Unlike what other stores have in them. All the haters drove me crazy comparing it to wal mart and such. Sad to see it close, nanaimo target was definitely my happy place!


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