In 2011 Target Corporation bought over 200 Zellers stores and began plans to open Target stores in Canada by 2013. As a Canadian who grew up in the US, the day this was announced was a dream come true! My mom called me to tell me the news, American cousins emailed me, and we all celebrated together; because for years they’d heard me complain about the lack of quality discount stores in Canada (but bragged about so many other things!). It’s 2013 now, and we are on the eve of Target opening its first stores in Canada.
A Discount Store By Any Other Name?
Needless to say, I am ecstatic that my city will soon be opening a Target; however, I have been surprised at the reactions of those around me. Based solely on my own anecdotal observations, it seems Canadians are just disinterested with the whole thing. I’ve now made a point of asking my friends and coworkers, “Are you excited to shop at the new Target?” I cringe at the many times the questions is answered with, “Meh… isn’t it just the same as Wal-Mart?” NO. IT. ISN’T. I take personal offense to that assumption. There are many ways that Target is superior to Wal-Mart, the problem in trying to explain this to people that have never shopped at a Target is that these reasons are sort of intangible. It’s the small details that make a big difference when comparing the two retail titans, and I will try to quantify some of them for you.
Overall Store Appearance
Target’s brighter lighting and more interesting color scheme just make it feel less dingy, and more “upper-class”. The wider aisles (on average) make the Target shopping experience more similar to the feeling of a department store, and less like a grocery store. Finally, in my fairly extensive personal research, Targets are neater and better stocked – at Wal-Mart things often appear unorganized.
Staff and Customers
Staff at target are always accommodating, helpful, polite. They seem less busy (I’d be willing to bet there are more per store). It can’t really be debated that when it comes to only considering the lowest price that Wal-Mart can’t be beat; however, the gap in price is super small and putting up with the throngs of people and crowding at a Wal-Mart definitely isn’t worth it for me. If you want to be squished by large crowds in cramped aisles then be my guest.
The main reason that I think Target is superior (especially for us ladies) is that they have the widest range in merchandise. Target carries the “affordable” options that can be found in any discount store, but they’ve also teamed up with designers such as Isaac Mizrahi, Neiman Marcus, Zac Posen, and Jason Wu to name a few. Also, Sonia Kashuk, a renowned make up artist created an entire brand of high-end make up that is sold exclusively at target. Target works hard to make relatively high-end merchandise accessible to people of all income levels.
When you fully factor in all of these not-so-little details, you get a store that is sort of three-quarters of the way to a “fancy” department store like Macy’s, but very close to the price point of a no-frills discount store like Wal-Mart. My fiancée (TM) doesn’t understand the difference (as I’m sure many husbands and boyfriends might not), but trust me, there is one! Go take a look for yourself and then come back and tell me I’m not 100% right! At this point I’m most interested in seeing how close they can come to the American prices that I’m used to (we still make several pilgrimages to the USA every year to see family)
Are any Canucks out there mildly exited for Target to move in, or is Wal-Mart the be-all, and end-all of the game here in Canada now?