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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.

Editor’s Note: Please give a warm welcome to my fiancee’s (aka Mrs. TM) first foray into the blogosphere.  When I asked her what the difference was between these two consumer goods giants that each represent equal amounts of agony for extremely reluctant shoppers like myself, she balked and began to methodically explain why I was an idiot.  She was shy about converting that sermon into a blog post, so please be gentle with the feedback!

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?

Article comments

AB Miller says:

A portion of every dollar you spend at Target … goes right into the pocket of Al Sharpton. Sharpton has a ‘foundation’ called the National Action Network (NAN), which according to its own website, was:
“Founded in 1991 by Reverend Al Sharpton, NAN works within the spirit and tradition of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to promote a modern civil rights agenda that includes the fight for one standard of justice, decency and equal opportunities for all people regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, citizenship, criminal record, economic status, gender, gender expression, or sexuality.”
Which is great. Until you consider that in 2018 The “Reverend” sold a the rights to tell or broadcast a “PORTION” of his life story (Not all.. but a portion) of his life story, for over half a million dollars. Great move, right? Just think about the good that could be done with that money for the Foundation known as the National Action Network, right? Nope. It was the NAN itself which purchased those rights from the “REVEREND” Sharpton.
Stop getting scammed. Give to organizations that truly want to make a difference and not line their own pockets. (Pepsico also pays extortion to this world class shake down artist.. as does companies like Home Depot and Wal Mart.) Use wisely your power of choice.

EdwardLife says:

All good truth. Of course the post on Target Vs WalMart I made in 2009 here:

..is a little outdated but many of the same points. Ceiling tile makes all the difference!

PKJ says:

I am also VERY excited at the upcoming arrival of Target in the great white north! My biggest fear is that it will not carry some of the products or the pricing will be different. (ex. Claire’s accessories having a big $16.99, then $27.99 CDN hidden somewhere on their tag. The concept was quite upsetting to teenage me.)

And to Mrs. Teacher Man,

My first Y&T comment will forever be saved in the internet as a congratulations on your excellent article! To be perfectly honest, I skimmed the beginning and thought it was TM until the comment “especially for us ladies”. Confusing.

Looking forward to hearing more,
JB’s better half

MWilkins says:

We stopped at the Target in Guelph. Not nearly as many Easter things as I was expecting. Definitely brighter than Wal-Mart, and no long wait to check out. It’s obvious they’re still stocking. Interesting selection of bedding – I’d say the prices are good. Not really great, but good. Not sure about the clothing/accessories- I didn’t have a lot of time. Overall, probably not worth a special trip, but if there’s one near you, worthy a visit to check it out.

MWilkins says:

I wasn’t impressed by the Marshall’s I visited in Ontario, either with merchandise selection or price. I often find that what I’m shopping for at Sears is on sale, usually purely by chance. They could use more sales staff, though.

Koala says:

I’m not excited yet, the opening dates for the stores here are still just ‘Spring 2013’. I will be checking it out once they are open for a little while. I agree with Rob though, they will likely be different the US stores.

I do look forward to at least having another shopping option, and Target has to be better than Zellers!

Tracey says:

I avoid Walmart at (almost) all costs (it’s truly the last place I’ll buy something and only when I can’t find it elsewhere so I go there once every 2-3 years) because of their business practices (squeezing their suppliers cost-wise). I’m really excited to see what Target has to offer because I loved Zellers (I think I was in the minority there). I’ve only been to a couple of Targets in the US (and many years ago) and I remember the huge selection that we didn’t get here in Canada (so I’m hoping there’s some of that). I hate shopping (my clothes end up wearing out because I hate clothes shopping so much), but I’m willing to spend some time at Target to replenish my dwindling wardrobe.

Speaking of Marshalls, I’ve been in ours once and bought a fancy dress and fancy top there for a great price! I seldom have that kind of luck. Sure, that was only one shopping trip, but it was enough to lure me back again (some day, LOL).

Leslie says:

As a man, I never even thought about the differences until you pointed them out. Brighter lighting, wider aisles, better organized, friendlier employees. (Can’t comment much on the designer clothes part.) Just sitting here reading your comments actually made me visualize both stores and I realized you are absolutely right. Unfortunately, the closest Target store is 25 miles and Walmart is 2 miles so your excellent observations won’t have much impact on my shopping habits. Thanks anyway, though!

I am not Canadian, but I shop at target all the time. It is so much better than Walmart. Its all about the cleanliness and customer service. I also love saving 5% instantly.

dave says:

The lineups at the checkout at walmart are a huge pain. If target can improve just that and are close to wall mart in prices i’ll go there

Welcome Mrs. TM! I don’t do a lot of shopping at either, but do much prefer Target to walmart. Among other things, I like that I can buy cheap stretchy shirts there (to wear under sweaters etc) at target that don’t look “cheap”.

Rob says:

“is Wal-Mart the be-all, and end-all of the game here in Canada now?”

In reply, I would say no. The retail scene here in Canada is still in a big state of flux.
It’s really too soon to tell, the current economic picture here and in the U.S. notwithstanding.

I reserve my judgment on Target (Canada) until they have established their presence here.
One can’t compare them as one would compare to Target in the states.
To illustrate my point, just recently I heard someone report that Marshall’s (here in Canada) was in no way as great as Marshall’s in the states. I can’t judge on this being true, having personally never been in any Marshall’s store. But I believe I make my point.

You may be right about your guy being an idiot but, for this Canuk shopping idiot, the jury’s still out!

Good blog post, btw – hope to see future contributions from you here. After all, why should TM have all the blogging fun, eh? 🙂

krantcents says:

In the states, Target offers a 5% rebate credit/debit card. The rebate is immediate so it is really a discount. It makes me think twice about going to the big box stores like Costco.

Teacher Man says:

Ya Ms. TM mentions that often…

Not Working says:

It’s also available here in Canada 🙂

MWilkins says:

I’m excited to visit a Target store in Canada! I was gobsmacked by the selection of merchandise at the one I visited in NY state a few years ago and hope it’ll be the same here. Otherwise, I prefer Sears, then Wal-Mart.

Teacher Man says:

Sears might actually be the closer comparison (just not nearly as good I’m being told).