5 things you’ll miss once Target’s gone

Target Canada
Target says it will close its stores in Canada, a market that it entered only two years ago. . THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

TORONTO – It won’t be long before the giant red and white circles of Target’s logo are gone, and you won’t have to listen to anyone ask if you’re going to Tar-gé in a mock French accent.

Stores north of the border have been bleeding money for nearly two years, so the company announced Thursday it will discontinue operations in Canada. It’s a move that will see 133 stores liquidated and affect more than 17,500 employees.

READ MORE: Here’s why Target failed in Canada

Online reaction ranged from sad to mocking, with calls from consumers to bring back Zellers, another discount retailer that was shuttered by Hudson’s Bay Company, who eventually sold the space left by Zellers to Target.

So will Canadians miss Target?

“They won’t miss Target, they’ll miss the idea of Target,” said Nadir Hirji, executive vice president of Jackman Reinvents, a retail consultancy.

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Canadian consumers really wanted Target to do something “special” in the marketplace, but the company just didn’t deliver, said independent retail analyst Ed Strapagiel.

Do you agree? We look at five things Canadian consumers might miss.

Affordable, fashionable brands

Target fashion show
The Target show during World MasterCard Fashion Week in Toronto on Oct. 21, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Michelle Siu

When the store launched, it emphasized its unique brands and designer partnerships: Shaun White, Roots Outfitters and Kate Young were all featured. The retailer was known for clothing that was trendy without the designer prices.

But Strapagiel noted the selection of designer products was often limited, with stocking and inventory issues.

“A lot of what happened with Target is their failure to execute on their promise,” he said.

Housewares, home decor and one-stop shopping

Clothing, makeup and jewelry weren’t the only items for sale–Target featured housewares like bedding, bath supplies, lighting, rugs or curtains.

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Similar to its clothing brands, the store featured unique home decor brands like the Nate Berkus and Lilly Pulitzer collections.


And if you weren’t into the shopping experience, you could always head over to the in-store Starbucks for a peppermint mocha latte to help pass the time while your sister tried on every pair of jeans on the racks.


No lineups

Unless you were visiting this Nova Scotian Target on Black Friday 2013…

Shoppers enter a Target store in Dartmouth, N.S. in November. The retailer plans to lay off more than 17,000 workers as it exits Canada this year.
Shoppers enter the Target store in Dartmouth, N.S. on “Black” Friday, Nov. 29, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

…the lineups in Target were probably a less frustrating experience than competitors like Walmart, and likely looked more like this:

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Empty cashier lines are shown at a Target in Saint-Eustache, Que., on Thursday, Jan. 15, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

Uniquely Canadian ads

Target launched its first Canadian commercial during the first hour of the Oscars ceremony in February 2013, and painted the store as a friendly new neighbour. Set to a remake of the theme from Mister Rogers’ Neighbourhood and recorded by Canadian band Dragonette, it shows a woman on a motorcycle with the Target dog sitting in the sidecar, as the two scoot cross-country past numerous landmarks and events. Brief nods are made to Moving Day in Quebec, ice skating in Toronto and a lighthouse in St. John’s.

“We wanted to just celebrate Canada,” said Livia Zufferli, marketing director of Target Canada, in a February 2013 interview with The Canadian Press.

But Strapagiel said these uniquely Canadian campaigns have been done in the past—notably by Rona and Zellers—which have both seen store closures.

“Canadians certainly go shopping with their wallets rather than their flags.”

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With files from The Canadian Press