He Said She Said: On Superstores

Mr. PoP hates shopping. He hates shopping for new clothes. He hates doing the weekly grocery shopping. And I sometimes wonder if he’s capable of buying bath soap if I weren’t around. [Wait, scratch that. His bathroom was always stocked when we were dating, so at least he WAS capable of that at some time.]

As a result, I do most of the shopping, and it’s not a big deal. After all, I’m the one that was raised clipping coupons and shopping sales, so it’s kindof second nature to get good values based on what we need. Plus, I don’t hate it. So there’s that.

Recently, though, we happened to be passing by Target on a date night and I suggested we pop in to get some band-aids (unfortunate choice of shoes was causing blisters that I didn’t want to ruin date night) and we could pick up a prescription while we were at it. Super romantic, right?

Mr. PoP was game for a quick stop, but when we went in we realized that Mr. PoP had no idea when he was last in a Target (or similar superstore), whereas I’m in there probably once or twice a month. Turns out, we have some pretty varied views on them.

He Said

OhmygodOhmygodOhmygod. How the hell do people deal with places like that? If you gave me everything that was wrong with America, put it in a blender, baked it under the Florida sun and then dipped it in red paint you would have something that was not completely unlike a Target store. Rampant consumerism? Check. Low quality, over processed food supply? Check. On-site, high-interest credit cards? Check. The list just doesn’t stop…

But like the old Woody Allen joke, it’s not just the quality, it’s the quantity as well. Holy shit there is so much garbage in that store! Who could possibly need to decide between 25 different types of razor blades? It’s the same commodity product, that you can probably pay less for online anyhow!

According to fearofthings.com, the word for fear of owning property is orthophobia. I couldn’t find an entry for fear of box stores, but if anybody would like to suggest one I’m all ears…Targophobia? Junkophobia?

She Said

Unlike Mr. PoP, I don’t let the consumerism of superstores bother me.  But, if we had unlimited funds and nearly unlimited time (well, the nearly unlimited time would be a natural and happy consequence of unlimited funds), I probably wouldn’t shop at supercenters. I like supporting small businesses and do so especially for businesses that directly give back to communities that I’m involved with (like the local running and biking communities). But in optimizing against time and money constraints, for now, sometimes superstores win.

However, in my view, all superstores are not considered equal. Target is pretty much the only one I go to with any regularity, usually about once or twice a month.

So What Do I Like About Target?

It’s clean and easy to navigate – and seems to be mostly the same wherever I go. There just aren’t that many different layouts of Target stores (though the 2 story Target stores in more dense urban areas still wig me out), so it can be a quick in-and-out stop.

Target’s sale prices and policies are excellent. Squawkfox recently compared Target and Walmart up in the great tundra to the north (since Target is new to Canada), and I think her price comparison cuts Target short because their sales are generally really good and really predictable.  Because of that, it’s pretty easy to know if you’re getting their best price or not.

Target’s pharmacy is top notch and honest. (At least the one nearest to us is!) I have yet to find a pharmacy that is as consistent about giving good information and getting us the best deals as our Target is. Rather than being shady like our mail-away pharmacy and requiring you to fill a prescription before they tell you the price (got screwed once on that one!), Target pharmacy tells you the price before filling and for a couple of different prescriptions has actually saved me some serious money off my copays.

Target brings back good memories. In middle school and high school, I would walk with friends from school to Target just to hang out in the toy section occasionally trying on princess hats and talking about life. Target also gave my sister a big check. Quite literally. There was an actual oversized check involved in the little awards ceremony where she was awarded a college scholarship from Target based on some of the volunteer work she had done. So when Target says they give back to the community, they really do. I’ve held the (oversized) proof in my own two hands.

So in optimizing along all of our current constraints, superstores are a sometime store. (Much like cookies are now a sometime food.)

What’s your take on superstores? Or Target in particular?  


49 comments to He Said She Said: On Superstores

  • Oh man, I will have to visit Target while in the states.

    We do have Kmart here, if that counts. Also, The Warehouse (an NZ brand, which I suppose is also kind of like a superstore, though not all branches sell all products).
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    • Haha, you’ll have to stop in one and let us know what you think! Here Kmart is pretty much “the suck”, and seems to be slowly going out of business.

  • I love Target. Not a fan of Walmart of Kmart though.
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  • I love Target but we don’t have one nearby. We do have a Super Walmart but I can’t shop there without ruining my day. I typically shop at Kroger….easy in easy out…and the people who work there seem happy to be there.
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    • Is Kroger a superstore, or just a grocery store? I’ve never been in one!

      • CincyCat

        Kroger is based in Cincy (where I live), but has many different store formats. They have “value” store concepts, convenience stores, fuel centers, traditional grocery & also superstores (which they call “marketplace” stores) that sell more general merchandise. Their Fred Meyer division in the northwest part of the country even sells apparel.

        They are a major local employer (including many members of the CincyCat family) :-) , and are highly committed to supporting local efforts via their Community Rewards programs. 501-c-3’s can sign up for the program, and you can choose which charity you want to support & tie it to your shopper loyalty card. Every time you shop, the charity gets a small percentage of the sale. :-)

        • I just looked it up – apparently a jewelry store around here (Littman) is related to Kroger. So I have been to one! Kindof =)

  • I’m SO with Mr. PoP….whatever happened to the quaintness of stores in different towns that weren’t all exactly the same? Now “small town” just means a town with less of the same crap that bigger towns enjoy.

    That said, if I’m forced at gunpoint into a superstore, the one where I won’t beg the dude to pull the trigger before we enter is Target.

  • There’s a Target being built in my town, it’s not open yet so I can’t speak to it. There’s also a Wal-Mart and some newer grocery stores have really expanded to include a lot of household items beyond groceries. I hate them in principle and would rather shop at a local store, but they are just so damn cheap and convenient that it’s hard to resist.
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  • I don’t mind Target, but I try to avoid Wal-Mart at all costs. Target has pretty good grocery prices, and their displays are very visually pleasing. Too bad we don’t have a Costco or I’d take most of my business there. I read that Costco pays its employees an average hourly rate of $20 and allows its employees to unionize.
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    • Costco does have a good record of treating employees well, which is awesome. But I actually hate Costco and hope to never have a membership there ever again.

  • Anne

    I like Target pretty well for when I need house stuff that is cheaper there than the grocery store- hair ties, toilet paper (fiance is picky on brand or I’d get that at Costco), and some pantry items that my grocery stores mark up to make their sale prices look great but have rip-off regular prices. I don’t mind shopping there for other things, I just tend to find myself elsewhere.

    Wal-mart on the other hand, you would just about have to put a gun to my head to get me into again. I went with my Mom a few months back when she wanted to stop in there, before which I hadn’t been in one since college, and it was AWFUL. Crowded with people who are all in a hurry, and it’s hard to find things. I mean Target might have 23 razors, but they don’t have 23 flavors of Wheat Thins! Seriously, regular, big size, mini size, sea salt, onion, red pepper, rainbow, puppy, girl scout, how many flavors of crackers can one brand possibly make that it needs 5 shelves?!

    I will say on their behalf though, when I lived in a small town and it was the only place to shop Wal-mart was actually nice. But it was because everyone in town had to shop there- or drive 40 miles- and the crowd didn’t seem to have the wal-mart mentality of “must block aisles, must cut people off, etc”.

    • haha, I feel the same way about Walmart. I had only been in it a few times in my life before I went to college in a small town and it was one of the few places that townies would go to “hang out”. It was sooooo weird for me. I never got into that and can’t remember the last time I was in a Walmart. They’re just so dirty usually!

  • I love Target, I can take care of household items, that month’s birthday cards/gifts, and personal items all in one place. Plus, there always seems to be a grocery store nearby so I park in an equidistant place and just go to both stores. I agree it’s cleaner and more organized than most superstores.
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    • I agree with the exception of birthday cards. Sooo much cheaper at Dollar Tree! And they’re just going to end up in the garbage bin anyhow =)

  • Haha, I’m kind of with your husband, but not quite that bad. I don’t like shopping and will avoid it if I can, but I still go grocery shopping or to Target 2 or 3 times a month. This is more than enough for me.

    • 2-3 times per month is more than enough for me, too! I’m in there once-twice per month, max =)

      It’s definitely looking like there’s a gender component to this… men hate superstores, and the ladies seem to vary between tolerating and loving them? (At least for Target!)

  • I’m a fan of Target for some things (shampoo, soap, TP, etc.). Like others have noted, it’s a more enjoyable place to shop that Walmart, from my perspective.

    Oddly, the big box I really dislike is Costco. It’s a bad experience from the moment they check your little plastic card at the door, just for the honor of seeing their humongously packaged and often overpriced wares, all the way until they match up your receipt to the items in your cart. That place is my shopping nightmare.
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  • In France I also stayed loyal to my teenage years supermarket. It is impressive how they recreate the same atmosphere in every store. That said, I hate shopping to but it is necessary so better go where the prices are low.
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  • I’m with Mr Pop 100%. I HATE big stores. Hatehatehate. Forgetting something when you’re at the register and then having to trek a half mile through the store? UGH!
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    • haha, yeah I know what you mean. I always have to go in places like that with a list so I make one loop and I’m done. Otherwise I’ll go running to and fro.

  • I don’t like shopping like Mr. PoP but I don’t mind Target. It’s a one-stop shop where I can get everything I need and get out. That and I think the prices are good and I have the RedCard!
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  • My wife really prefers Target says they are just cleaner to her and she thinks the people are just happier there. I don’t know I don’t talk to anyone so I could care less. I do almost all of our shopping at Sam’s and the farmers market.
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  • We shop at Target and Costco for most things. I don’t think they’re inherently good or bad, you just have to know how to use them. Buying too much of something you don’t need will get you into trouble. But saving on bulk purchases you’ll actually use (e.g. diapers, wipes, paper towels, black beans, etc.) is definitely worth it.
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  • Whoa, I’m shocked – I LOVE TARGET! Has Mr. PoP ever stepped into a Wal-Mart? I’m sure he’d be completely morified!
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  • Jonathan

    I can’t stand clothes shopping – fortunately my wife buys most of my clothes for me now, which is better for both of us as I get testy shopping for clothes. On the other hand, I don’t mind going going to Target and I actually enjoy going to Costco, mainly because they primarily have quality and interesting stuff (especially the seasonal stuff) and on the rare occasions something doesn’t work out, they have a great return policy.

  • If I had the money to shop small all the time and not worry about prices I would. But since I don’t, I’m not opposed to big chain shopping (well Target and BJs mostly). They are both close and clean and a good value for the most part.
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  • If I had to choose I’d go with Target as the better big box store for no particular reason other than I can’t stand Walmart. Where we live it’s a little ridiculous that there is a Target a few miles north of us, another one a few miles south of us, so where would be a good place for another one? Right down the street from us. Mrs. Bonner was sooo happy she doesn’t have to drive more than 1.5 miles to now go to one of her favorite stores. It’s the same with Home Depot’s, Lowe’s, Walmart’s and Costco’s. I think there are 5 Home Depot’s and Lowe’s within 5-6 miles of our place and for some reason a new shopping center is being built with another freaking brand new Lowe’s. The redundancy in such a small proximity drives me crazy!
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  • I like Target the most. I really don’t like going to Walmart, for the same reasons as everyone else, but it was closer than Target at my old place. I went there last week to pick something up that I ordered online and waited a half hour for someone to show up at the damn counter. Ugh!! Thankfully Target is five minutes away now. We shop there because it’s inexpensive and convenient. I’m not really bothered by all the consumerism either, but it is easy to get overwhelmed and lose yourself in there for hours, which I always end up regretting…

    I really dislike Costco because it’s always so busy and there is never any room to move or breathe! This would probably be solved if I could go sometime other than the weekend, but it’s always insane there and I just feel rushed.
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  • I definitely side with Mr. Pop on this one. I go to super stores like CostCo and Target, but I hate it. The rampant consumerism and greed makes me feel so uncomfortable. They will do anything to get you to add one more item to your gigantic cart. They are useful if you get the right items in bulk from them, but for the most part they are just painful to be in.
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  • I’m with Mr. PoP here – there’s just too much to spend money on too. I like to get in and out of there before I get hypnotized by all of the displays and blow our cash. :-)
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  • “Targophobia”

    Hilarious! Mr. PoP’s little rant cracks me up!

    I dig what you say about supporting small business. I’ve read lots of stories about what happens when Walmart (ugggh!) comes to little towns. All of the mom and pop stores are abandoned and the old city center dies a painful death. I never understood this. I’d always pay more to support my neighbor versus a superstore, especially a *&^%ing Walmart.
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  • I’m a die hard Target fan…no gonna lie! We don’t really have a walmart near where I live in LA, but I do hate that store. I do have to restrain myself from going in Target too often because I could easily go crazy!
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  • […] from Planting Our Pennies feels quite differently about superstores like Target than Mr. POP does. He Said She Said: On Superstores. Gotta say I’m on Mrs. POP’s side. I heart […]

  • I do like Target for most of the reasons you mentioned, but the closest one is 70 miles away and it isn’t really a huge one. If I do venture into Sam’s or a huge supercenter, I get overwhelmed and almost panicky because of the sheer volume and because I don’t know the layout, so I guess I’m like Mr. Pop there. I’ve never been in a Costco in my life so I can’t really have an opinion there. If the grocery store had everything I need, I probably would never go to WalMart, but sometimes you need stuff and I have to hang my head and go. If there were any other choice where we live, I’d never go there. I guess they are a necessary evil in today’s society.
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  • […] PoP & Mr. PoP chat about Target. (Spoiler Alert: Mr. PoP hates it but Mrs. PoP says it has its […]

  • […] He Said She Said: On Superstores at Planting Our Pennies. I do get a bit nervous in really big megastores. Maybe I had a bad experience with the free sample lady as a child? […]

  • […] PoP from Planting Our Pennies presents He Said She Said: On Superstores, and says, “Mr and Mrs PoP debate the relative merit of superstores, and Target in […]

  • I completely understand where the husband is coming from. I hate shopping. It’s just so time and energy consuming. You really have to have some stamina for a few hours of shopping.

  • My coworker and I were were discussing this topic this morning. Thanks for the useful information!

  • […] PoP @ Planting Our Pennies writes He Said She Said: On Superstores – Mr and Mrs. PoP debate the pros and cons of […]

  • I love Target… but like you, it’s one of the only superstors I go to with any regularity. I see the value in places like this- it’s a one stop shop with everything you need, and the products are reasonably priced. But, I can also see your husband’s side. Places like Target are a big reason why so many mom and pop shops can’t afford to keep their doors open. They just can’t compete. Someday, maybe I won’t have to rely on their low prices as much as I do now. But until then, I don’t see myself giving them up!
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