After years of anticipation, the Toronto locations of American mega-retailer Target are open for business. I caution you to keep your excitement in check however, as it is not and may never be, the same experience as visiting an American store. Regardless, many of us are certainly adding it to our list of where to shop in Toronto.
These are so-called soft openings, meant to test the stores for efficiency and test us as consumers to see what we buy and how many of us show up. The almost 1800 Target locations across the US that we have been coveting from afar for years have had the time to fill up their shelves. The Canadian locations will feel sparse in comparison as they iron out the bumps.
Is Target Where to Shop in Toronto?
I visited the East York Target on opening day in the afternoon. It was crowded with both curious newcomers wandering around and those in the know who were busy looking for the fun and colourful home design and fashion items that the chain is known for. Clearly, many people were checking it out to see if it was worth adding to their list of where to shop in Toronto.
What did I find? Clothing, shoes, appliances, a pharmacy, furniture and décor, toys, a Starbucks and even a small grocery section are spread over two floors.
Sheets and Cushions and Candles oh my!
The stuff I always go straight for – graphic throw cushions for the couch, silky high thread-count sheets, duvet covers, scented candles, lamps and bathroom accessories were there, but limited in variety and quantity. A lot of the shelves were about two-thirds full. I left with only a simple outside mat for my front door – a first for me. The kids’ clothing looked cute and inexpensive, although I am always shopping for boys, which is never as fun as shopping for girls. The women’s clothing section didn’t really draw me in at all, but hopefully that area will get beefed up as the stores get more settled here. They are going to have to step it up if they want to compete here with Marshall’s, Winners and Home Sense.
Where Have All the Designers Gone?
The only designers who really stood out in the store were Roots Canada and Nate Berkus, Oprah’s home design guru. In contrast, the American stores seem to be full of upmarket designers making affordable lines especially for Target – particularly in the fashion department. Last year, Target US partnered with the Neiman Marcus department store and brought in the iconic styles of Carolina Herrera, Diane Von Furstenberg and Jason Wu to name a few. I was hoping for a lot more of these American products that are so fun to pick up on cross-border shopping trips. It’s great that they are going to be getting Canadian designers and retailers like Roots to design Target lines for them, but it doesn’t have the same novelty or appeal to me personally.
Despite the crowds, the store was clean, the staff plentiful and the line-ups both for the self-serve and regular checkouts were quick-moving.
Prices were not as low as they are in the US, although I didn’t see anything that I would actually call expensive.
All in all, I am really happy Target is here at last and I accept that it will probably never be just like the Target south of the border, but in the words of Charles Dickens’ Oliver, “Please sir, I want some more.”
Are you adding Target to your list of where to shop in Toronto, or will you take a pass?
Photos by Rebecca Ruddle