Wednesday, June 19, 2019

It Starts with T

I have several Very Large blog posts bearing down on me. Those are the ones that I generally try to find some reason to put off. They might be too controversial, or they need to be perfect and I’m not sure I’m up to the task.


Did you hear that Target in Columbia is going to offer you the chance to shop without going in their store at all?

Target expands drive-up service in Maryland , Lorraine Mirabella for The Baltimore Sun

Shoppers can place their orders in the Target app, wait for a notification on same-day pickup and drive to a designated spot in the store parking lot. Their orders will be delivered to their cars within two minutes of arrival.

Well, everyone else is doing it, right? Grocery stores, and big ol’ Target competitor Walmart...

But wait just a darn minute. Are we not killing the goose that laid the golden egg here? Don’t the vast majority of Target sales come from customers who go in planning to buy laundry soap and a birthday card and emerge with several large bags and a receipt for $50 or even $100 dollars? Using an app and a pick-up service will force customers to make a list and stick to it.

That is not the Target experience, ladies and gentlemen. No indeedy. Not by a long shot.

Yes, we’ve got trouble, right here in Howard County. And it starts with T, and that means Target.

Why in the name of all that is holy would they mess with our suburban rituals? It is our American equivalent of what my Irish husband and mother-in-law call “going round the shops”. We haven’t a “High Street” anymore in many places. But we have Target to noodle around in, bump into friends, co-workers, and even our children’s teachers, sometimes.

When our daughter was a baby sometimes the only way to “get out of the house” and wander about in a dazed, sleep deprived stupor was to take a trip to Target. It gave us a sense, however limited, of freedom and autonomy as we walked up and down the aisles. Pathetic? Perhaps. But I think we were far from alone in our weekend-afternoon wandering.

Sometimes we had things to shop for. Sometimes we didn’t. But, of course, there were usually one or two things we needed. Shampoo, maybe. Or diapers.

Am I looking back in those days with nostalgia, or am I just grateful we survived them? It’s hard to say. I do know that, for us, anyway, Target hasn’t been simply a place to acquire merchandise. It’s an experience. Not exciting, mind you, but- - perhaps - - comforting. It fills a need.

None of this will be prevented by the new Target app and same day pick-up service. It will meet the needs of folks who always just wanted to get in and get out, no nonsense. They will very likely be glad to avoid the wandering zombies and “out for a stroll around town” folks like the rest of us. Maybe it will attract new customers. Who knows?

But I just can’t escape the feeling that giving folks the option of sitting in their cars is going to bring those receipt totals way, way down.

In trying to keep up with a popular trend Target may really be missing the mark.

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