Target Always Wins

You know when you get all boastful and high-horsey about something and then you totally live to regret it? Or how about those times when you completely underestimate your adversary’s capacity for revenge?

Anyone? Bueller?

Well. It happened to me. And, as most well-intentioned-but-poorly-executed things in my life go, it started on Facebook.

Yeah, I recently bragged on Facebook about my medal-worthy performance at Target.

It went like this:

  • I went in to return some items.
  • I completed the return.
  • And then: I walked the fuck out. Without buying another single item.

Yes, that’s right. I left Target in the black.


{Brief applause break.}

I felt victorious. Invincible. It was clear that my life’s work in the retail sector was done.

But my joy was premature. Naive, even. Because, about a week later, Target had the last laugh.

It happened in the baby aisle, unexpectedly. I wasn’t there to shop for my unborn child. I was just looking for something very specific that I, uh, can’t seem to recall at the moment. Because, hell no, I was not just browsing aimlessly — that would be reckless.

But then, it began — the pull of Target. Before I knew what was happening, I was standing in the middle of the newborn supplies. This seemed harmless enough at first. I mean, it couldn’t hurt to have a quick look. After all, I’m about seven-ish weeks away from delivery and, while I have two children already, there are probably a few key supplies that might need replenishing or updating.

And that’s when things started to get weird. At first it appeared to be a straightforward case of simple Parental Amnesia. I realized that I didn’t even know what I needed. We hadn’t even looked in the attic to see what gear and clothing we still owned. Did I have the essentials? OMG, what are the essentials? I couldn’t remember but my options seemed to be displayed in an enticing array in front of me.

Out of nowhere, there was a sleek red empty Target cart right there in the aisle. It was in mint condition. All wheels intact and functioning. Very clean surfaces. All it was missing was the requisite 46 lb coating of hand sanitizer. Like a zombie, I abandoned the smaller, hand-held shopping basket.

I. Need. To. Buy. Things.

Many. Things.

What was going on? I was supposed to be in control. I was the woman who pulled off the Return-and-Run move just a week earlier. I wasn’t sure what was happ — oooohhhhh, look at those new bouncy seats. So much more compact than the one we had before.

But still, the rational side of my brain, though diminishing by the minute, tried to prevail. It pressed me to ask myself: Where the hell was all of our baby gear at home?

And then, like a bad flashback, I remembered what probably happened to everything: The Fordeville Garage Sale of 2010. The one where we made half-assed family planning decisions in the driveway at 6am, all in the name of profiteering.

“Should we sell the bouncy seat?”

“I don’t know. Do you think we’ll have another kid?”

“No clue. I haven’t even had coffee yet but someone wants to buy any and all baby gear we have. Should we keep it?”

“Uh, well, what are your thoughts on a third child?”

“Don’t know.”

“Me neither. But I hate clutter. Let’s sell what we can and deal with it another day.”

It can be said that, at times, we lack a certain finesse for long-term planning.

Back in the present day at Target, in front of my shiny red cart, I held my hand over my mouth and gasped audibly at the memory reeling back at me, while staring at 637 varieties of pacifiers in front of me.

What is that in my cart? Oh, well, it’s just a Target circular with the words SPRING BABY SALE all over the front.

I knew then that I was in an epic battle. It was Me Versus Target.

Every fiber of my being told me that, with our third child, we really don’t need much. Not like the first two times when we had checklists and tons of baby items. No, no. This time, there were probably about five things we needed to purchase — and would probably do so en route to the hospital.

But it was abundantly clear that Target was fucking with me. Like a Jedi mind trick on steroids.

Target is bigger than me.

Bigger than all of us.

You can’t play Target, people.

Target always wins.

Surely I don’t need most of this stuff. Although, everything has seemingly become smaller, slicker and more efficient in the four years since I was last pregnant. Wow. And, look, there’s the friendliest Target employee I’ve ever met, standing squarely in front of me. She claimed to be there for assistance but it seemed more like she was trying to prevent my escape.

I was overwhelmed with choices. With pre-emptive retail guilt. And, most importantly, with the aroma of the in-store Starbucks near the check-out lines.

And ultimately, that is where I went — with my impeccable cart and my nearly-personalized circular — to clear my head with a mind-crushing dose of caffeine. I needed a safe haven in which to regroup. I clasped my latte and slowly began to feel like myself again.

In the end, I held my ground. Mostly. My cart wasn’t empty when I left by any stretch, but it wasn’t a newborn supply overdose either.

But we all know that this was just one battle in the bigger war. Target is on to me and they won’t rest until they recoup the cash from my previously returned item.


I see their mascot dog with the bullseye on TV and wonder if some rabid version of him is outside my door.

It’s on, Target.

And the sad truth is, I’ll be back.

{Tip: Don’t ever sell all of your baby stuff at a garage sale unless you’ve really thought it through first. Or until you’ve had some coffee. Just saying.}



* * *

In other news, I survived my first published Q&A session as part of my participation in the upcoming production of Listen to Your Mother. As you might expect, my answers are full of deep thoughts and meaningful insights. {You all know better than to believe that, right?}

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  1. I don’t know why I even fight it. Target always, always wins. And as for the rest…after #2, the doctors said I’d never be able to get pregnant again. Got rid of everything baby as soon as he outgrew it. 1.5 years later, guess who was pregnant? After baby #3, they told me I’d never, never be able to get pregnant again. Sold it all. Four years later…guess who was pregnant. I finally tied my tubes so I could make my doctors feel like they knew what they were talking about when they said after baby #4 that I really would never, ever be able to be pregnant again.

  2. Can you please put that saying on a t-shirt and sell it? I’d totally buy it and wear it! Truer words have never been spoken, my friend!

  3. I was just at Target yesterday. I needed to return a lock that wouldn’t work. I needed to replace it and ONE other thing. One. I got to the checkout counter with the replacement lock, the ONE other thing…a decorative lamp, and 2 new throw pillows. And then I got popcorn as I was leaving. Self control. I was not blessed with much.

    • fordeville says:

      If you qualified for the express lane (and it sounds like you did), I consider that a total victory.

  4. Ashley M says:

    When my son was 4 years old, my husband and I had been trying for baby #2 for 2 years and were finally told it was not going to happen EVER. We had a garage sale and sold all the baby stuff to move on emotionally. The next day, BAM!! Guess who was pregnant! Do not sell your baby stuff until you are 100% sure lol.

    • fordeville says:

      I think we’re onto something here:
      Have a garage sale = Get pregnant.
      We should take this scientific finding to the fertility clinics.

      • Ashley M says:

        Seriously!! My fertility doctor asked what happened, my husband and I answered “we sold all the baby stuff!!!” He was floored!

  5. The Target vortex is strong. Don’t fight it. Just give in and buy the ridiculous sun, floppy sun hat, neon yellow sandals and the $100 baby swing. YOU NEED IT.

  6. I cannot fight the hypnotic power of the Target Bullseye. It tells me as I walk in that I need all the shit. ALL THE SHIT!!!! I have my fingers crossed that someday soon they will start putting shooters in the dollar bins. At least that way we won’t give a damn that we spent over $100 on random crap.

  7. I get so sad when I don’t need anything at Target that I might just go so far as to throw stuff out just so I can go get a latte and buy more.

    But I must admit, there is something about that store – probably the red – that makes my kids go batshit crazy.

  8. Loooove. Oh, and thank God I just moved to a podunk town over an hour away from the nearest bastard Target. Now I can be in the black.

  9. Sara says:

    I know this is a year old, but YES. I’m a new owner of a Target red card (it’s been 6 months, we’re very happy together). Their stuff is almost in line with Walmart prices, but it’s SO much cuter. I find myself shopping there more and more for toys, clothes and home goods. We got our school supplies there as well. I like the deals too. My daughter has wanted a Circo bedding, set, but at $50, I was like eh…… But thanks to two target coupons, cartwheel and my discount, I was able to get it for her for $30. I’m about to do the same thing for my son now too. The cartwheel app is great and they offer a lot of savings that you don’t see at competitors.

  10. Kelli Miller says:

    This cracked me up. I worked at Target until recently (I loved it and only quit due to health reasons). That magical cart you found? That was put there on purpose lol. Yes, we leave a few strategically placed carts throughout the store just in case a guest needs one :).


  1. […] Come to think of it, this is a great way to avoid spending too much. What can she possibly fit in here? We should all borrow a napping child when we go to Target. As Kim from The Fordeville Diaries points out, there may be no other way to avoid leaving with too much crap. […]

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