Dear Target, I'm Broke (And It's Your Fault)
It's with a conflicted heart that I write this. For months now, I've been riddled with thoughts; thoughts that I’ve wrestled with day after day, night after night. There's so much I need to say. So much, in fact, that the thought alone of starting was overwhelming.
Alas, as it always happens, I've reached my breaking point. I cannot carry on any longer without you knowing what you're doing to me. Nay — to the greater female population, age 25-65. So, consider this letter not just from me, but from all of us.
We need you to stop.
Stop being so amazing, so affordable, and so relevant because you are sucking us dry.
It wasn’t always this way, and that’s the biggest struggle for us all. As recently as 10 years ago, you were a different beast. Any purchase we made within your walls wasn’t without a tinge of shame. No matter how cute, inexpensive, or savvy the purchase, we didn’t readily offer up the source from whence it came. “Target…” we’d finally half-mutter, eyes lowered to the floor. We even came up with a cute way to pronounce your name in an effort to diffuse the insecurity and awkwardness we felt about shopping at you. "Targé," we called you with a smirk.
Back then, all we could afford was Target. Now, all we want is Target.
You were quiet about your evolution at first. Without the majority of us being privy to it, you were working incessantly behind the scenes* (*the double-sided mirrored wall that lives at the end of every one of your checkout lines) on your master plan to flip the script on your own brand. As we shyly wandered in and out of your aisles, only allowing ourselves a quick peek at the clothing section while trying to remain focused on the task at hand of finding a last-minute birthday card for our grandpa, you were plotting the makeover to end all makeovers.
Suddenly and without warning (or at least that’s how it felt), Target became a go-to destination. What was once lumped in with our list of Sunday errands became an event; a trip to Target was now a planned-in-advance day-long excursion. Today, the term "Target Run" is as inherently part of our vernacular as "YAS," "betch," and "literally dying" are. Your rebrand birthed the long-standing joke of going into Target for deodorant and paper towels but somehow leaving with a new 12-piece wardrobe, three on-trend nail polishes, a bedside lamp you weren’t even in the market for, a couple of throw pillows, knock-off designer shoes, and a utility-sized box of tampons when you aren’t due for another three weeks but they were on crazy sale.
And the worst part? You’re only getting better every day.
It started a few years ago when you began collaborating with well-known designers — Missoni, Philip Lim, and Nate Berkus to name a few. But it snowballed — and fast. At first, these collaborations were delightful surprises from which we didn’t expect much. They were fun to get excited about, but we knew the short-lived essence each one possessed. We understood that, once they had their time in the sun, it was back to basic business at Target.
However, these collaborations gradually morphed from every now and again pop-ups, into full-time, key players. And our wallets followed.
Personally, the biggest blow/blessing my credit card has suffered (at least I get airline miles?) is your introduction of the adorable, affordable, one-stop-shop clothing line for women: A New Day. So far, I own their ridiculously well-designed, on-trend, $35, plaid menswear blazer, the impossibly chic and essential Seattle-mom car coat for $28 and, as of very recently, not one but a few of their $28, open-face, pocketed cardigans that perfectly emulate their $100 cousins that live across town in department stores. And don’t even get me started on these $30 suede block heel pumps or this essential, fall-weather Anorak jacket that's only $40 or this white balloon-sleeve sweater I've been coveting for A YEAR that I ordered from Shopbop for $100 and promptly returned, but you just happen to have an identical one for $28. IT'S TOO MUCH.
But I was really triggered last week when I stumbled upon the JoyLab workout wear line. I was on my way to the dressing rooms with a few new A New Day items in hand (duh) and was stopped dead in my tracks when my peripheral caught a glimpse of this new setup. Begrudgingly, I walked over and began sifting through their offering. After being introduced to these shirts, this sweatshirt, and their leggings, I stood there defeated. With slumped shoulders and the tiny yet very earth-shattering scream of my credit card in my head, I muttered out loud to myself and anyone within earshot, “Please, Target. You have to stop or I’m going to be homeless. Cute but homeless but cute.”
And don’t even get me started on the brand-new roll-out of everyone’s favorite fixer uppers' home décor line: Hearth & Hand. THEY EVEN HAVE THEIR PRODUCT BROKEN UP INTO PRICE PODS, FROM UNDER $5 TO $50+ AND IT'S ALL SO STYLIZED AND BEAUTIFUL. CHIP AND JOANNA CAN DO NO WRONG EXCEPT CANCEL THE BEST DAMN HGTV SHOW SINCE JON AND KATE PLUS 8. WAIT, WAS THAT TLC? WHATEVER. I TOLD YOU NOT TO GET ME STARTED.
The point is: I can't quit you, Target. None of us can. With each introduction of a new offering to drool over, you've made it impossible to catch our fiscal breath, and you know it. Your pristine-white flooring matched with your aggressive yet calming crimson brand color ignites an animalistic, Pavlovian-like response from which no one is safe from exhibiting. But the dirty truth is — none of us want to be safe. You are our grocery store. Our pharmacy. Our department store. Our home goods stores. Our liquor store. Our therapist's office, mom's house during the holidays, and a puppy's breath all at once. You are the one store that provides us everything we need, most especially when we don't need it at all. Yes, you're making us broke but at least if we do end up on the streets due to the incapability to pay rent since we spent it all on you, we'll still look cute.
Cute but homeless but cute.