First Visit to a Canadian Target — BP #66

{27 Comments}

Last week I visited a Target in Canada for the first time. These are my general impressions.

My first visit to a Canadian Target

The store was impeccably clean and beautifully laid out. (Of course; they just opened it.) At the end of every few aisles was a little “help station” with a store map, price checker, and phone line for asking questions.

Target help centres

I thought this was great. But Target has a vested interest in helping consumers find products. It bespeaks the malaise of other Canadian retailers that such conveniences are even notable. This isn’t a new idea, unlike the innovations that Kmart seems to be churning out nowadays:

Target clearly attempts to offer more premium products than other retailers, and in broader selections. One example where they’ve succeeded (I’m aware of it simply because I’ve been looking for this product at other retailers) is shower shelving. Target had about ten options — and in premium finishes like brushed nickel — whereas Wal-Mart had just a few options.

But the price tags at Target floored me. A review of the flyer yielded “deals” no better than those found in the flyers of the now-graciously-extirpated Zellers. Regarding the shower shelving example above: Wal-Mart’s offerings were between $15 and $30, while Target’s were $35 to $50. The “premium” food offerings (an onion ring example is below) are also really freaking pricey. All they offer is a lame price guarantee that is, for all intents and purposes, exactly the same guarantee offered at Wal-Mart.

OK, they’re not trying to compete on price. I get it. But for that reason I don’t think Target is going to shake up the Canadian retail landscape to the degree that many people expect. For starters, Wal-mart has clearly geared up to meet Target’s challenge (e.g. nicer towels and premium foodstuffs). Vancouver has had an IKEA since 1976. I’d say the real potential for stealing market share in the Canadian retail sector still lies in the hands of dollar stores. Target is settling for a replication of its American role: being the second banana. But if that strategy was profitable in a market as small as Canada’s, why close down Zellers?

Target Canada price guarantee

Now for a quick food review. Long-time readers know that I’m an onion ring aficionado. The best rings are made with panko breading (bread crumbs made from bread without crust). A&W’s onion rings are a fast food example of this ideal practice. I’ve never been able to find this awesome product on store shelves before. And then I saw these at Target:

panko-breaded onion rings

Here’s the final product:

delicious onion rings

Delicious? Yes. But they lacked seasoning and thus tasted bland. I also preferred my homemade onion rings because they were freshly fried — there’s a certain “je ne sais quoi” that gets lost in the freezer.

//Cat//

Throwback to 5 months
Here’s a previously-unpublished 5-month picture

Cat's baby doll Teething on a freezieSleepy cuddles

Walmart baby doll success! feeding herself

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27 Comments… Share your views

  1. I too checked out the Target when I was in Milton last week. The selection of unique items such as pretty matching garden boots and gloves caught my eye but I found price tags on clothing to be itsy bitsy and hard for me to a) find and b) read. Most clothing was made in Vietnam.
    So I wouldn’t shop there again for “deals” but maybe for more unique items that I wouldn’t expect to find elsewhere.
    As for why close Zellers? I think the stores that were closed were mostly unionized but that is just conjecture.
    I would add a pic of my Target purchases but can’t figure out how to do that

    • Interesting theory. I think Zellers was just unprofitable — they stagnated for a decade while Wal-Mart has shot ahead in terms of quality and maintained its (relative) price superiority.

  2. Down here, Target almost ALWAYS gets my shopping dollar vs. WalMart. Cleaner stores, happier, more helpful staff, and better quality of most items. Their coupon offerings (store coupons) are terrific — but I don’t know how much they will offer them in Canada. The area where I really find good deals at Target is their clearance items. All in all though, I avoid WalMart if I can and prefer shopping at Target.

    • I’ve been in a few Target locations in the States. They are indeed awesome. The Canadian Target that I was in — maybe I was just in a bad one — was nowhere near as well-stocked with reasonably priced, unique goods as the American ones I’ve visited.

  3. In our area they shut the Zellers and won’t be opening anything for at least 2 years. It’s a pain as Zellers had more kids clothes than Walmart does, and Sears has basically stopped carrying kids clothes too.

    • Sorry to hear that, are you in a super rural area? While it must suck to get left out, they’ve done a pretty impressive, fast takeover of a ton of locations (as much as I’m unimpressed with their prices and offerings).

  4. Will Canadians pay more for basically the same stuff because it comes in a nicer package? Is that the difference between Walmart and Target?

    I would have to drive just over 30 minutes to get to a Target and I don’t enjoy shopping or wasting gas so I won’t be making a trip any time soon.

    • Will obsequious Canadians do money-stupid things? Most definitely lol

      If I had to choose, I would definitely pick having a Wal-Mart nearby. Even a No Frills.

  5. For the stores here, their website just says they will open Spring 2013. I thought by now they would have opening dates set.

    Cat is so big!

    • lol I know, right? I couldn’t BELIEVE the difference 6 months makes when looking at pictures. I’m glad I’ve been posting photos every week — it’s the only way I could hope to establish a sequential timeline of her photos in a permanent format. Now, looking back, she’s gone from a tiny (but very tall) adorable infant to a chubby, super cute baby lol

  6. I have not been to a Canadian Target yet, but I don’t see the hype yet. Not too much buzz and it looks like Zellers 2.0

  7. The store we visited is in Lindsay and has a lot more product that clothing. It was over priced in general and I plan to stay with Wal-Mart. The Target in Lindsay seemed to have a little of everything but no variety that allows for comparison shopping like Wal-Mart.

  8. We went the first day they opened and haven’t been back since. It was clean of course the store is brand new. There were products we had never seen before but the prices were nothing to write home about. We can still find cheaper prices at other shops but who knows, they are still new. We will see how it goes.

  9. Thanks for the heads up. I’ve heard so many great things about Target in the USA, so I figured it was going to be a real alternative to Walmart. Disappointing to hear it compared to Zellers. Even at liquidation prices, Zellers stock wasn’t very enticing.

    • lol yes, I remember seeing cans of Chef Boyardee on liquidation at Zellers for like a buck fifty. I couldn’t help but think, “even if I DID want to eat that, I could get it for a buck some weeks and stock up”

    • I think in a lot of cases the liquidation prices at Zellers were very close to their regular prices. I went almost every week in the last few months they were in my town, and it really seemed like they jacked up the “regular” price and then offered a 60% discount. The only deal I got was on a few tubes of lipstick, otherwise stuff was still too expensive the weekend they closed.

  10. Wallmart has always impressed me as bearing out its claim that you can get everything there that you need, and was recently found to be the only store when roasting a turkey where I could find the cotton string and needle needed for stuffing it. Also excellent and quick at leading you to where what you want is located.

  11. The elite I belong to is too proud of being cheap to stoop to store snobbery. Our target is value.

  12. JackBraithwaite May 4, 2013 at 3:57 pm

    I went to the new Target in Milton as well after I moved back from Peterborough. My reason for going was to get new shoes for summer since I wore my old ones out. I was sorely disappointed in the selection of men’s shoes that they had there, with only 7 different pairs to choose from while there was a much wider selection for women and children’s shoes. Maybe I’ll go to 1950′s Russia if I want a more diverse offering next time I go shoe shopping but definitely not to Target.

  13. Target is probably going to have to close some of the stores they’ve opened in Canada real soon. Just a waste of space.

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