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Individuality can be found away from Target's dependable sameness

March 22, 2017

The Target store became a Minnesotan institution when, in the 1960s, the Dayton family turned its attention from its department stores that bore the family's name to creating a chain of discount stores located in the suburbs of the same state.

On Target’s corporate website, there is a full timeline of the history of the iconic store. Target, an offshoot of the department store Dayton’s, was pitched as a new type of shopping experience that would “combine the best of the fashion world with the best of the discount world, a quality store with quality merchandise at discount prices, and a discount supermarket.”

Target became an almost instant success, and by the end of the 1970s Target had surpassed $1 billion in sales. Since that milestone, the discount store has set up shop in almost every state in America, and even in some parts of Canada. Target has also grown the size of some of its stores into Target Greatland stores and then later into the first SuperTarget.

Currently, Target has exceeded $50 billion in sales, has its own in-store brand and offers a wide expanse of products for every area of a person’s life. Target, I think, has moved beyond being a store or a brand, and is almost a lifestyle to some people.

Target excels in offering every item you could ever think you could possibly need, or forget that you needed. The shopping experience at the store is notable as well. No matter where you are in the United States, shopping at a Target store is like pulling on your favorite pair of well-worn jeans: comfortably familiar.

Some people may like the dependableness of having the same products and experience no matter which Target store they are in. I, however, am totally over it. I do not like trekking through the huge expanse of the Target parking lot that is always filled with badly parked minivans and littered with a lid and straw of an Icee drink. I am annoyed by the sound of the thudding of heavy footfalls as people stomp across the shiny and scuffed white floors as they hurry to fill their carts with a mess of plastic products.

Target is always so loud, too. Loud with the scraping and shrieking of carts being pushed and pulled this way and that way, and of the clicking of many plastic hangers being incessantly flipped through. More than anything though, I am frustrated by looking around at people who are pushing along in their carts the same things I have in my own. I do not want familiar uniformity; I crave something distinctive and unique.

This spring break began as most traditional spring breaks do: with a trip. This trip was not to some place warm and sandy though; it was instead a much-need shopping trip. For my adventure to find some wearable inspiration, I researched and armed myself with a list of the locations of vintage clothing stores, consignment shops and secondhand stores in the nearby Twin Cities. I spent a whole, wonderful day carefully inspecting and trying on clothing and shoes that had never spent time hanging on a rack in a Target store.

Unlike in Target, you are not guaranteed to ever find your size amongst any of the clothes you are searching through, and I almost never find shoes that are big enough. Neither can I rely on knowing exactly what I will find or the fact that, if I like something, it will still be there when I go back. These facts may be drawbacks to some shoppers, but to me the extra time and diligence it takes to find clothes no one else has makes it that much more worth it.

When I was younger, I flocked to Target because I wanted to look like everyone else, and Target was a great place to achieve that goal. These days, however, I am thankful that I no longer feel the need to dress like everyone else to feel a sense of belonging. I am proud to be a person who wears her individuality on her sleeve, or on her feet.

Lauren Simenson is a student at UW-River Falls.