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The TARGET Experience

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You go to Target with the sole purpose of buying some shampoo or some other toiletry necessity. As you walk through the automatic doors, you get a whiff of the “Target Smell”—the smell of clothes, popcorn, and cardboard fused into one, and immediately you get excited! “Should I get a cart?” you ask yourself. Since you only need shampoo, you decide that a basket will do.

After pulling a basket apart from the rest, you automatically and without any thinking whatsoever walk over to the Dollar section. What theme do they have going this week, you wonder. You see that the theme is kitchenware. Wow, those kitchen towels are really cute, you’re thinking, but you know that you already have two at home. Then you stand there holding the cute towels in your hand and stare off with your head tilted trying to decide if it’s possible to have too many towels. Finally you decide that you will just buy them and use them as backup towels … after all, it’s ONLY a dollar, right? Then you walk a few steps over and a set of coffee mugs catch your eye. OMG, a set of four mugs for just $2.50?? OK, just put them in the basket …. you plan on inviting friends over a lot anyway and you don’t want to run out of mugs. How embarrassing would that be? You decide that you better leave the dollar section now before you get too carried away.

You immediately head towards the personal care aisles, looking down every aisle to make sure you don’t miss the shampoo aisle, but you are suddenly attracted to the chocolate aisle and you are craving a truffle at that very moment. You spend about five full minutes taking in all the different flavors with your eyes and try do decide which one exactly it is that you’re craving, touching and picking up the final two choices, and making sure to pick the one that offers more ounces for your money. You throw the winning chocolate in your basket and quickly head out of the aisle, embarrassed about how long you’ve been standing there.

You finally manage to reach the shampoo aisle and throw your usual bottle in the basket. You take a step to walk away, but suddenly return to your spot because you noticed a different shampoo that you’ve seen in the commercials and you remember your friend saying that she uses it and she loves it. So you stand there, your usual bottle in one hand and the new bottle in the other, taking time to read all the extra oomph each shampoo has to offer. After five full minutes, you decide that you just want to stick to your usual shampoo … it’s cheaper and it’s familiar. You also figure that since you were considering spending twice as much on the newer shampoo, you might as well pick up your conditioner as well since you’re already there, even though you have a lot more at home! After adding those, you notice that your basket is starting to get heavy … the two black rubber handles are making their imprint on your skin.

You know you should start heading out since you got what you wanted, but you just want to see what DVDs are on sale, so you wander over to the electronics section and browse the DVD selection  …

AND YOU KNOW HOW THE REST OF THE STORY GOES … You end up returning to the entrance to switch out your basket for a cart, and before you know it, your shopping list went from one item to pushing a full cart to the checkout stand.


1) Have an ongoing “TO BUY” list with you at all times (in your phone, PDA, or in your little notebook). ONLY list your necessities in that list (groceries, toiletries, etc). When you need to go to the store and buy them, have the list out with you throughout your whole store visit. It will remind you that those items are the ONLY ones that you NEED.

2) Separate from your to buy list, have a “WISH LIST” as well. List the things that you WANT only. Do not open up this list while you are shopping for things on your TO BUY list. Save your wish list items for times when you feel you deserve something good and you can afford it at that time. Buy one wish list item at a time … Don’t wipe out your whole list in one day because you feel you had a bad day and need some cheering up. The reason for having two separate lists for needs and wants is that when you shop for your NEEDS, you will see your WANTS and be tempted to “just look” at them, but you know you’ll end up buying them!

3) If you only need a few Need items, don’t pick up a basket or cart … you’ll tend to want to fill them up.

4) Dollar sections, I have to admit, are God’s gift to man, but limit yourself to one item when looking.

5) If you see something that attracts and you want it really badly but it’s not on your list, leave it there, and if by the end of your visit you are STILL thinking about it, then buy it if it’s within your budget, but most likely you won’t be thinking about it anymore.

6) Never shop on an empty stomach. Your grumbling stomach will tell you that you NEED NEED NEED those foods that you crave and flesh is definitely stronger than your rationality at that moment.

7) When you know what you want and what kind/brand of item you want, go straight to it, grab it, and run, don’t walk, RUN out of that aisle.

8) Instead of looking down every aisle to find your NEED item, look up at the signs that show what each aisle contains. It’s less tempting.

9) Don’t wander through the whole store just for the fun of it. Go to where you need to go and head straight to the checkout stands.

10) Before even putting your items on the conveyor belt at the checkout stand, take a look at what you picked up and calculate how much it will all cost. Is it within your budget without having to use a credit card? Is this how much you were expecting to spend when you walked into the store? Do you REALLY need that dollar item or anything else you picked up that wasn’t on your list? Will your life cease productivity if you don’t buy it? If you answered no to any of these questions, put it back.

There you go … my ten pieces of advice for the frivolous spender. If you read this and you just think it is utterly ridiculous … “I have never experienced a Target visit like THAT,” than you are one of the lucky ones. You are not a shopoholic.


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