Monday, February 17, 2020

Off Target, So Shop Local

The slow burn is on...

So three weeks ago, Cookie announced he was going to Target.  Well not just any Target, the largest Target in the region.

We needed a few things, and the store was recently remodeled with the latest look and products.  So why not.  The house needed a cleaning product that they carry, and we needed laundry detergent.

Lately, Target's stocking of the store out here in the Baltimore region has been pretty hit or miss on the house care, laundry care aisles.  So I figured I see if this store was stocked better.

What I noticed is that the new Target look is more like a department store selling soft goods, makeup and housewares that a store selling the stuff you need for your home.  The grocery section is still thinly stocked.  But the stuff of life, the laundry detergent, the house cleaning things have been scaled back. Instead of three sizes of detergent, they carry only the huge size.  Need trash bags?  One vendor.  Name brands?  Nope, in-store brands. 

I'm not trying to be difficult but I go looking for Tide, I want Tide, not Up & Up Brand.  Vexed - because now I had to go to another store, I went looking for Murphy's Oil Soap Wipes.  They've carried them for years, and not a sign of them.   So I flag down a stockman and ask him and he said: "We used to carry them, people come in here looking for them, I have to tell them I can get them."  How many people?  Maybe 9, more like 30.

So now I don't have the things I need.  So I go over to the Service Counter to ask if they can get them.  There two people behind the service counter, and an employee clowning around with the older person behind the desk.  No one pays attention to me.  Finally, the younger employee asks if she can help me.  I walk over, ask if this is temporary or permanent.  She smiles sweetly and says she doesn't know but she'll ask the manager when she sees them. 

She doesn't write down the name of the product.  I ask her one more time if she remembers the name and she said "Baby wipes?"

No.  I restate the product name.  "You know, it might be better if you call the 800 number because we just stock what they send us."  Some customer service.

So out in the car, I call the 800-line.  The first call gets dropped, the second one gets stuck in the phone tree, the third call is a charm, or so I think.

A seemingly nice man listens and parrots back what I say, says he'll send it up and thanks me for the call.  Wait a minute, says I.  Isn't anyone going to send me an email even to say they are looking into it?

"All calls to Target's customer service regarding products are recorded as anonymous calls," says the man.

Huh? That doesn't make sense. 

"We never perform callbacks or confirmation emails.  All calls are put into the system anonymously.  You see Target is the most trusted name in the value store category, and we have built our business on stocking the stores with what customers need, and we never want to put any employee in the position of delivering news about any product to any consumer."

Now Cookie has worked in customer service.  You don't to be number one by ignoring your customers.  That only works if you have a monopoly and all the cash in the world.  You take care of people.  You check back with them.  And if you don't have the product, if you aren't going to carry the product, you can at least direct them to the manufacturer for more information on whether or not they make it, and if so, where to buy it.  You know, the old Macy's Gimbel's idea of building trust.

Not this prissy pants.   The buck stopped with him.

Could I speak to a manager, please? 

"No, I'm sorry, our managers are not available."

So I ended the call.

I called back in, got a different person and spoke with her.  "Could I speak to a manager?"

"Of course.  Hold for one minute."

And in a minute I get a manager. I explain what I am looking for, and how the guy I was on the phone with refused to take my name.

"Well we normally don't take that information because we don't want to call with unhappy news...blah, blah, blah...but I will take you name and email, I will get back with you in one week.  I have to send it to the buyer's department.  But you will hear back from me."

I thanked her, but I asked her if you aren't tracking these calls by phone number, how do you tell who speaks with whom?  I mean, did that guy understand his job?  How do you coach an employee if you can't track who he has had encounters with?

"That's a good point."

One week later she wrote me an email and said that the buyer's group in that area will look at the says in that area and decide if we should stock the product. 

GREAT!  You can't hope for more when dealing with a monolith like Target.

But here's the thing, we don't wear Target clothing. We don't shop for groceries at Target.  We are not women or drag queens, and if I were my drag name would be Tempest Fugit.  So I don't need a makeup department.  And their hardware area has been shrunken to nothing. We have no children, so we don't need baby items or children's clothes or toys.   And I don't buy things off the web for home delivery unless they are very basic - like pencils or light bulbs.

And evidently, they don't give a dam what customers want or need or care about.

In other words, Target no longer has a purpose in my life.  I can't trust it to carry what I need.  And I don't spend money where I am not wanted.

But I did find those Murphy's wipes.  Where?  Ace Hardware!  And they are locally owned - they can carry whatever they want.  They need to stock the stores with a certain percentage of items bought through Ace's warehouses.

But have you been in an actual hardware store, lately?  Not Lowe's or Home Depot, but the locally owned stores?  That is where you find customer service.  That is where you find the parts of life, the bits, and nails and bolts.  They want your business and they will look for what you want or need, and if they can't get it, they know who might.

And that got me thinking, the biggest retailers don't need to care.  They have no competition.  They carry what they want you to buy, not what you want.  And frankly, Target isn't inexpensive anymore like it used to be.

So farewell, Target.  I am spending my money locally.   I would tell you that, but you don't care.



  1. I have never been in a target. there are 2 targets in proximity to my location, but I have no desire to visit. if I want something, I will either buy local or (if local store doesn't have what I want) through amazon.

    and the ace hardware near my office smells like a hardware store, like the kind I remember from my childhood.

    1. Target used to have cool stuff. Now they carry "Magnolia" and the rest of the bullshit from Chip and Joanna Gaines. Those two destroyed HGTV.

    2. and those gaines bastards are vile dump supporters.

  2. Like Walmart, I can't with Target. I just can't.

  3. I was in Target last week for the first time in years and I noted exactly what you did, It seemed that the basic stuff that they used to carry, which I why I only ever went in there was gone. I have 2 Ace Hardware stores near me and they are great. Also they are all franchises so are stocked with items that their customer base uses.

    1. A friend who works in product placement said that Target is trying to reposition itself more like Kohl's. To do that they are pairing down the traditional lines and trying to make women shoppers feel more at home. "They're also shrinking down choice in the household and hardlines because the feel that shopping has become too difficult for people who face too many choices in products and sizes. And that means one size detergent bottles, which eliminate the space that multiple choices take up."

      Like I said, they don't care about what you want. They are going to tell you what to buy.

  4. We don't have any of these stores nor brands in the UK. This is a little reminiscent of walking in on a conversation in an English class in a foreign land...
    However, the themes are probably similar - more and more supermarkets are desperately trying to "diversify" into clothing and soft furnishing, but there's not enough of a market in any of them to go round, so we have ended up in a situation whereby whole retail chains have gone under... Jx

  5. In the summer I usually go to the Target at Warrensville and Cedar (the salespeople have been exceptionally nice), but now I am not looking forward to returning there--in fact, I have already noticed the trends you mentioned. Since I need to make an occasional stocking-up trip I steel myself for Target or Walmart, but their odd choices of brands and sizes have me running to the local stores.

  6. I could not have said it better...Bravo...I just moved back to Denver and went to Target just 10 minutes from my home...Now I shopped at this Target when it was youngin...Now it has expanded to included groceries...I went to Target to find a broom...Not a nylon broom...A straw, hard bristle broom to sweep my tile floors...None in sight...Also a mop...You know a good quality cotton mop...No on that as well...Guess where I ended up...A local Ace Hardware store 15 minutes away...There is even one closer to my house...Yes!!...I am in healthcare management and I am all about customer service...Not ass kissing, shine your shoes customer service but taking care of those in front of you...I hate to say it, but healthcare is a business...But I try to couple that with good patient care...All my calls are on a ACD (Automatic Call Distribution)...I can track every call...If at patient says I called at 9:50 AM and spoke to a rude, uncaring person but I didn't get their name....I can pinpoint that in a heart beat...Target, Amazon-did you know they have 80 lobbyists to do their bidding-Walmart, Cable companies do not have the end customer in mind...It's about the money...No competition...Why should they care...Time we did something about that...Ma Bell, railroads, banks ring a bell...Sometimes getting back to the basics is A GOOD THING!!

  7. PS-I see plastic on the couch...Do I also see it on the curtains...The SMOKE...I knew an older couple years ago that smoked so heavily that their white walls were now beige and one time I moved a picture on the wall and there was an outline of the frame on the wall...Gross!!

  8. Target is a little full of themselves, they tried opening stores here in Canada. I guess they thought that we would feel so privileged to have them here, that we would shop there even though they sold the exact same items as Wal-Mart but 10 to 15 percent higher cost. Also all the empty shelves were not a crowd pleaser. Idiots didn't realize we were going down there to get clothes for less than half of what it cost here and not because we wanted to worship at the altar of Target. Lol

  9. I like to actually got to the store to get my household products but I find Target is over priced. I still prefer Walmart over the other choices around me and we have everything.