Shopping List Challenge
So, I’m proudly just three weeks into My Year Without Target, and my shopping list reads as follows:
- Small bubble mailers
- Plain white T-shirts in baby and kid sizes
- 60-watt lightbulbs
Sigh. I knew this would happen. I just didn’t know it would happen so soon. This is exactly the kind of list that screams “take me to Target!” The list that has common enough stuff on it, but you can’t quite guarantee yourself that you can get it all at one store… unless you go to Target.
After my inaguaral Target purchase in 1992, I did not shop at Target for a very long time. Sometimes I visited my brother in Minneapolis, which is Target’s city of origin. The Target stores there were smaller and more urban than the ones we now associate with Target’s national brand. A sort of Uber-convenience store, it was a place you could go in your neighborhood to pick up things you had forgotten to purchase elsewhere without the risk of not being able to find them there, but it didn’t seem to be anybody’s primary shopping destination.
Later, after I’d been living in Pittsburgh for some time, a shopping center was built on a nearby former millsite which included a Target. It was the first time as a city dweller that that type of shopping was located conveniently enough for me to actually shop there. Although I did occasionally go there to buy things for my apartment that had Hello Kitty on them, it usually made more sense to shop in my neighborhood, and usually I did.
A lot of things in my life changed when I became a parent. One of them was my approach to shopping. I was no longer living in a walkable neighborhood with a business district, so any trip to the store that I made had to involve driving, negotiating parking and getting my infant in and out of the car and the store before her next nap, feeding, crying jag, or diaper change. The things I was buying were different too and it seemed like there were always more of them. I got really used to Target then because it just seemed easier to make one shopping trip to pick up the next size of onesies or developmentally appropriate plaything along with the diapers and formula, dog food, Kleenex multi packs, toaster waffles, picture frames, leg warmers, et cetera. Stuff with Pooh Bear on it… then stuff with Dora on it… now stuff with Barbie on it. Stuff with Hello Kitty on it again, who is now being marketed to me and my daughter simultaneously. Yuck.
I realize now that it’s not the stuff ON the list that makes me feel disgusting. It’s the other stuff that ends up in the cart.
At some point, I gave up my power of consumer choice. I was no longer choosing, I was just consuming. I would sometimes experience a moment of addict’s remorse when I saw my checkout total, but I could put it behind me by the time my card was swiped.
But consumer choice IS powerful, and I’m taking mine back, one shopping list at a time.