Target: Would a Zeller’s by any other name smell as sweet?


With a little time to kill before I had to pick up my kid after an extracurricular, I headed over to Target. I really didn’t have any reason to go to Target other than to be critical and covert. My only mission was to hit the Target.

Shortly after the start of the 2013-2014 school year, Target replaced all (or most) Zeller’s locations in Canada.It was much-anticipated that Target would take a huge chunk of the retail market share and revitalize the slowly dying shopping mall scene. Here we are, almost 8 months in to their landfall, and it still remains to be seen.

The timing of the chain’s opening here in Atlantic Canada still surprises me. Target opened their doors after the back-to-school rush. I believe this is be a near fatal mistake. The back-to-school rush to such a great way to not only sell pens and pencils but children’s clothing which, by all accounts, is what Target is known for.

My first impressions of Target was right before Halloween. Their selection of Halloween decoration was great and the new staff was friendly and plentiful. The red colour scheme and store layout was familiar to that of Zeller’s. This similarity to Zeller’s soothes the sting of loosing one of our Canadian retail treasures to another American retail franchise.

Besides that one brief trip back in October, I had not been back to Target to buy anything. I had no real reason to go. I find myself trying to do as much one-stop shopping as possible these days. Being a full-time student doesn’t leave a girl with much time to window shop. I believe my current financial circumstances and lack of time is shared by most Canadians. This would probably explain the empty malls.

This second trip to Target was a mission. I walked in with big eyes and an even bigger agenda that did not include trying on sunglasses or playing with their tablet display. This was research.

As I made my way through every department, I found myself liking the bright and cheery choices of merchandise. Everything looks and feels really young and fresh. It’s like Zeller’s with a facelift. At this point, I’m doing my best to find something snarky to say but I couldn’t. The price points are reasonable. The prices are higher than Wal-Mart’s but so was Zeller’s. The store was impeccably neat, tidy and spacious. As a shopper who can get easily overwhelmed by clutter and confining spaces, this was a welcomed change of pace.

I almost couldn’t believe my eyes when I could actually locate and access an actual staff member who didn’t try to overt their eyes or turn and run away.

It was at this point on my mission I believed I had gone soft. Perhaps Target really was the bigger, better and badder Zeller’s. Then my critic senses started tingling and I saw 2 huge issues. The first issue came in the form of the smiling posters that decorated the tops of merchandise displays.

I did notice that all the photos of smiling, playful people did make an effort to be inclusive as far as gender and diversity. However, the people who were not Caucasian were extremely “white-washed”. Their complexions were a little too photo-shopped. I understand this is a very sensitive issue and these are only my perceptions.

The second issue I noticed was initially something I liked. The lack of clutter. As I made my way through the aisles it became apparent that the lack of clutter was not an effort to be tidy but a shortage of products. There were a lot of empty shelf space. A lot! There is definitely something array in their distribution channels.

With a store that is still new in the eyes of consumers, there should be no reason why there should be such lack of product. A concerted effort needs to be made that all suppliers and distributors are lined up, communicating and fulfilling the demand. I’m even shocked this has to be mentioned in reference to a large retail entity like Target.

Aside from these 2 issues that could easily rectified with less photo-shop and more product, I am welcoming Target into my town with open arms. In fact, I wish to give Target a little Canadian flare and pronounce it Targét instead.

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