What It’s Like To Shop At Target

You’ve seen the memes and the Instagram accounts. The thought crosses your mind frequently that you “just need to stop in for some toothpaste real quick,” but you know it means more.

It always means more.

Do they pump the smell of the Starbucks at the front throughout all of Target? Is their coffee and shopping partnership one that will define our lifetime? Looking back years from now, will we realize how beautiful a duo theirs was – comparing them to Lennon & McCartney, both providing a piece of the song that sounds great alone but even better in harmony?

You weren’t going to commit to a cart, but now you’ve got a beverage in hand and wouldn’t you know it- the Target carts have cupholders, because well, of course they do. Target knows. They know their customer loves to sip while browsing. They know you’ve had a long week and this perk of caffeine and soaking in the sales is your silver lining. They know you.

Oh, how they know you.

The Dollar Spot looms ahead. You’ve resisted its charms before – after all, it’s not going to provide you with the toothpaste you swore you were just running in to snag- and you aren’t going to buy anything, of course, until you spot an adorable 3-pack of pencils. Blinded by cuteness, you convince yourself they’d make such a perfect hostess gift that you’re sure you’ll need in the next month- even though you know you’re going to give in and open them to keep for yourself.

(It’s too bad that Future You can’t send a warning that when you do open them 3 weeks later, you’ll realize that it’s 2016, life is mostly sarcastic comments typed out, and you don’t actually own a pencil sharpener – but they’re so precious at this very moment that it’s like they’re physically calling to you, and yes, you simply must have them.)

Besides, you got a cart. Your first mistake was getting a cart, in fact, but here you are. Pencils tossed gently in and another sip of Starbs down, to the toothpaste you go.

I mean, eventually.

The clothing looks normal and well-stocked from far away- a few printed maxi dresses, some graphic sweatshirts, and affordable leggings in every hue- but you know that within the racks there is that one tank top that you already own in 5 colors because it fits so well and it goes with EVERYTHING and you always get compliments so you might as well just check to see if there’s a 6th color, and whaddya know- there is! There’s actually 8 colors, so you buy a new shade but also a backup black one, because who has too many black tank tops? No one!

(Well, actually, you. The answer is that you have too many black tank tops, but Target wouldn’t judge you for that. Target just wants you to feel confident in sleeveless weather and knows any color other than black is at risk for queso or coffee stains. Target gets it.)

After adding a surprising number of $1.50 printed socks to your cart to join the tanks (you were just here last week, but somehow there’s already new delightful sock designs?!) you stumble upon an familiar shakeup: there’s new Nate Berkus and Threshold homegoods and every 1 out of 3 of them is golden- as in, not only painted gold, but also perfect. Shining. Full of splendor. You think about royalty throughout history and how just the presence of gold could improve your mood and social status immediately. Suddenly, struck by the indicated on-sale price, you are Cleopatra and you simply must indulge, so you gingerly pick up an off-white porcelain ring dish decorated with a gold antler. A warm feeling washes over your whole body. This will be the year of me, you think. The year of me as a royal Egyptian goddess, and better yet, a royal Egyptian goddess who designates a place for her rings instead of almost always nearly knocking them into the sink in the bathroom or losing them amidst your vanity clutter. Queens have their lives together and queens most certainly own woods-inspired jewelry storage. At this rate, $12.99 is peasant’s price to pay for that sort of future-altering ability, you think.

A cough from an employee behind you brings you back to the aisle and you realize you’ve been standing in front of the endcap for close to 7 minutes, debating ruling power and holding said ring dish. You gently place it into your cart and direct your cart towards, what was it again? Oh yes- toothpaste.

Toothpaste that you already know quite well.

You won’t forget the toothpaste this time- you’re no amateur. You found and added the exact toothpaste brand and flavor that you wanted to the Cartwheel app on your phone before you even got to the store, and you’re debating buying more than one just to increase your savings score. Is Target showing off by letting you compete with your friends to see who can save more? Is it getting under your skin that you’re not currently shopping for a family of 5 and therefore will never quite save as much as that girl in the #1 spot on this app? Is this just about the toothpaste or is it something more?

Your Starbucks cup is now empty and you see the irony in having a whole lot of energy as you’re supposedly ‘finishing up’ this ‘quick trip’.

But wait: THE BEAUTY AISLES.

Ahh, the beauty aisles. Once dimly lit, they now glow and pulsate with soft white hues, begging you to come see what seasonal nail colors await. You remember a beauty blogger mentioned something she loved from the drugstore- was it Revlon? Maybe it was a lip pencil. Oh wait, they carry NYX now?! With so many thoughts racing, you quickly pick a new volumizing mascara, promising as you grab it to never be the kind of customer who opens the lipsticks and swatches them out on the sale price placards. Were you raised in a barn, random makeup testers?

I mean, you certainly weren’t raised in a Target.

You laugh at your own pun out loud, to the dismay of the teenage girl waiting for you to stop taking up half the aisle with your cart. What she doesn’t know is that you will now begin to debate 4 different bronzers with only 1 in stock for the next few minutes, cart still in place. This isn’t your first makeup aisle standoff and you won’t back down until you’ve researched each one a little bit on your phone before just giving up and picking another dusty-mauve lipstick. No one’s a hero in the beauty aisles- we’re all just trying to grab something before it sells out or before the teens get to it first.

Checkout is here. This wasn’t that bad, you think. Remember that time you convinced yourself that you needed the same pair of sandals in two different colors and also an entire new sheet set and an adult coloring book and a shower curtain and salt and pepper shakers and teeth whitening strips and also a family-sized bag of Reese’s Pieces? Could have been way worse.

In line, your head is a little woozy from all the joy. How can one store contain so many things you love? You didn’t even visit the clearance accessories, test the throw pillows, or read all the witty birthday cards, because by now you’re hungry and your internal voice that told you, “don’t budge on your budget!” is loud. Checkout locks you in to this decision. And sure, there could be more lanes open, but you’ve come this far and you can’t turn back. This is Target, where abandoned carts are never around, because no one’s going to leave with just toothpaste.

You know it’s not about the toothpaste— it was never about the toothpaste. You go to open your wallet and the friendly cashier asks you if you’d like to apply for the RedCard, as you flash yours, already-in-hand, like a proud club member. The walk back to your car is blissful, tossing your Starbucks cup into a bright red trashcan.

Even the trashcans are cheery here. Is that a metaphor somehow?

“Maybe someday I’ll love a man as much as I love @target,” you tweet later that night, jokingly, right before squeezing your new toothpaste to your brush. You chuckle, but also catch yourself slightly believing your own logic.

If Target was a man, he’d have everything you need. He’d be so helpful and so handy. Your wedding colors would be red and white and you could actually be wheeled down the aisle in a shopping cart. Your cake would be iced to look like a clearance sticker and you’d have one of those cute bull terriers with the logo on his eye as your ring bearer.

Wait, snap out of it. Ring bearer. For the rings. Rings? Why can’t you shake the thought of rings?

Oh yeah, the ring dish you bought. Remember that? You guiltily look over to your dresser, remembering you actually already own a ring dish.

You know, you didn’t even visit the jewelry this time – I wonder if Target carries your ring size?

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2 responses to “What It’s Like To Shop At Target

  1. Hi Kelsey,
    this is very random, but I thought I could reach you on here. I am a sophomore at Loyola University New Orleans majoring in Music Business. I saw on the ACL TV website that you interned with them. I wanted to ask you about it, as that was the only thing I could find about internships on the website. I am very interested in something like that, and was wondering if you could help me out. My email is sophiehenry74@yahoo.com, thank you!

  2. Are you still working with BB5? Many of your subscribers would like either a refund or the owed boxes – otherwise you have basically stolen from many people.

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