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Target vs WalMart-Interesting Perspective from the Boston Globe

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Target vs WalMart-Interesting Perspective from the Boston Globe

Old 10-31-05, 08:46 AM
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Target vs WalMart-Interesting Perspective from the Boston Globe

I found this perspective piece from the Boston Globe to be very interesting. WalMart gets demonized for having business practices that supposedly destroy local business and expolit workers, Target does many of the same things and is welcomed into communities.

http://www.boston.com/business/artic.../30/on_target/

On Target
So what's the big difference between Target and Wal-Mart? We welcome one to a prime corner of Downtown Crossing but cold-shoulder the other.
By Thomas M. Keane Jr. | October 30, 2005

As soon as rumors floated that Federated Department Stores would be shuttering Filene's in Downtown Crossing, dismayed Boston officials started thinking about who next would occupy the magnificent 1912 Beaux-Arts building. Two names quickly surfaced: Wal-Mart and Target.

This summer, Wal-Mart signaled it might be interested. The reaction was swift and negative. At a Labor Day breakfast, politicians ranging from the mayor to city councilors to members of Congress vowed to thwart the company. Rich Rogers, executive secretary-treasurer of the Greater Boston Labor Council, told the Globe at the time that the 90,000-member group would "do everything in its power to stop Wal-Mart from moving into Downtown Crossing." Wal-Mart backed off.

And Target? Then and now, "people are thrilled with Target," says Randi Lathrop, the Boston Redevelopment Authority's deputy director of community planning.

Community groups organize against Wal-Mart, bloggers rail against it, and major unions - including the nation's two top teachers unions - have urged consumers to boycott it. The Arkansas-based chain, the nation's largest retailer, is routinely vilified for destroying mom-and-pop businesses, underpaying employees, resisting efforts to unionize, and selling foreign-made goods. Target, on the other hand, seems beloved. It's an anomaly that puzzles many - Target, they argue, also undermines local businesses, shuns unions, squeezes employees and suppliers, and buys from overseas.

"For some reason, the same stigma doesn't attach to Target," says Suzanne Mulvee, a real estate economist with Boston-based Property & Portfolio Research. A case in point is the Washington, D.C.-based Wal-Mart Watch, one of numerous anti-Wal-Mart groups. Spokesman Nu Wexler acknowledges Target's business practices differ little from those of Wal-Mart, but when asked why there is no Target Watch, he has no ready answer. "Wal-Mart," he lamely offers up, "is the bigger target."

It certainly is: six times Target's size (still not shabby, however, Target is the country's fifth-biggest retailer). Yet Boston's snubbing of Wal-Mart had nothing to do with annual sales figures. It had, instead, to do with politics and culture and stereotypes, easily (albeit badly) summed up in a poem I penned:

Wal-Mart is red,
Target is blue,
One so downscale,
The other so cool.

Let us review the stereotypes. Wal-Mart evokes conservative red state; Target, liberal blue state. Wal-Mart is overalls, guns, and purged lyrics; Target is high thread counts, "Tar-zhay," and Michael Graves designs. Wal-Mart is for people who can't afford full retail; Target is for those who can, but would just as soon pay less.

Reality is less simple. In June, for instance, Black Enterprise magazine named Wal-Mart one of the 30 best companies for diversity.

Wal-Mart, founded in 1962 by Sam Walton, was based on a simple business proposition: low prices for the masses. The idea propelled the company to sales of $285.2 billion last year. Target, meanwhile, was the outgrowth of the Minneapolis-based Dayton department stores, and its first location also opened in 1962. To compete against the fast-growing Wal-Mart, however, price wasn't enough. So Target went after customers Wal-Mart ignored - the middle and even the upper class. And to get them to walk in the door, it gave them something Wal-Mart didn't have: style.

The way that difference has evolved explains why so many demonize Wal-Mart and praise Target. Target fits the culture and politics of the land of Kerry and Kennedy, making its business strategy - at least for the Northeast - perhaps more brilliant than its founders ever realized. Not only does its mix of price and cachet attract customers, it also keeps the opposition at bay.

Foolishly so, of course - low wages and meager benefits should be equally objectionable whatever an employer's cultural hues. And it leads to strange sorts of political blindness. Wal-Mart, for example, isn't to blame for the much-lamented collapse of full-price retailers such as Filene's and Jordan Marsh. Its customers were never theirs to begin with. Target is a different story, however. By making discount shopping acceptable to the fashionistas, Target made obsolete the traditional department store. Should the firm eventually settle in Filene's old downtown digs, ironically enough, it will be not unlike the fox who ate the chickens and then moved into their coop.

Thomas Keane is a partner in a private equity fund and former Boston city councilor. E-mail him at [email protected].
Old 10-31-05, 08:55 AM
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I like Target but not Wal-Mart. There. I perpetuate the cycle.
Old 10-31-05, 09:45 AM
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Wal-Mart feels like the 3rd world, and Target feels like the 2nd - I do my shopping at Sak's and Neiman's...
Old 10-31-05, 11:10 AM
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Interesting article.. I have to admit to liking Target a little better than WalMart. Not much though.. I really don't shop at either. WalMart (around here at least) seems to attract some pretty scary people.
Old 10-31-05, 11:14 AM
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I haven't read any nasty figures about Target (yet.) I have seen plenty of data about Wal-mart and what they do to economies.

That's a fairly dumb editorial. The author doesn't cite or even point to any data. Show me some numbers, some figures, some economic trends, and I'll jump on board. Until then, I continue to avoid Wal-Mart at all costs and shop at Target on the same rare occasion.
Old 10-31-05, 11:25 AM
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I like target much better. The wal-marts around here are much less organized, have lower quality staff, and more lower class assholes shopping there and yelling at the cashier over a 50 cent price mistake and holding up the lines.

I'd much rather go to Target, pay a little more, and have a much better shopping experience.
Old 10-31-05, 11:36 AM
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Me personally, I prefer Target as well. That being said, I do most of my shopping at Walmart. Reason being is because at the local Wal-Mart, I can also do my food shopping.

The Walmart and Target in my town are right across the street from the other. The Target is usually not busy while the Walmart SuperCenter is always crowded.

The major difference between Walmart and Target to me is that Targets are much cleaner and have better quality items.
Old 10-31-05, 12:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Josh Hinkle
I like target much better. The wal-marts around here are much less organized, have lower quality staff, and more lower class assholes shopping there and yelling at the cashier over a 50 cent price mistake and holding up the lines.
That's exactly how it is in my neck of the woods too.
Old 10-31-05, 02:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Bill Geiger

The major difference between Walmart and Target to me is that Targets are much cleaner and have better quality items.
That is my big thing. Wal-Mart, doesn't matter which one you go in always looks dirty. There is shit everywhere where it doesn't belong. They have crap displays in every available inch of walking space. Doesn't help that most of the employees and consumers look just as disheveled.

Target is clean, orderly and spacious. The electronics department is as orderly as Circuit City or Best Buy, unlike Wal-Mart's that looks like they are selling stuff off the back of a truck.
Old 10-31-05, 03:29 PM
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When I moved to where I live now, there were no Targets around here, and they are recent additions to several neighborhoods in the last half decade. And the areas the Targets moved into? They really seem much the better for it. A LOT of growth in those areas. But the areas Wal Mart is in? Virtually, year after year, the areas are going down hill and becoming like ghosts towns while Wal Mart stays the only thing that pulls in business around there.

I don't have any data to examine, no politics to pick, I just know what I see!
Old 10-31-05, 04:17 PM
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When I absolutely have to go to Wal-Mart (generally to pick up some item at midnight) I will, but I generally will try to do a quick in-and-out. Target is generally more welcoming feeling. Even when Target is crowded I don't feel overwhelmed with people.

The funny thing about Wal-Mart is that I always see people stocking up on crap, just carts loaded with everything. It's as if they think the Wal-Mart is going to close the next day. They rarely ever have normal sales, so it's not even like they're stocking up on sales goods.
Old 10-31-05, 04:33 PM
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Target tends to have more fashionable merchandise but fewer "departments"
Walmart has a much larger selection of items.

As far as clothing goes I've never bought so much as a pair of socks at either one.

Target has much better clearance sales than Walmart.
Walmart has a much better selection of "seasonal" merchandise. ie holiday decorations, garden items etc.

I probably shop Walmart a little more than Target.
Old 10-31-05, 04:43 PM
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I shop both, but Wal-Mart definitely has the better prices. I've been to Wal-Marts that are prestine, but the majority are not in great shape. 99% of Target stores are always in good shape.
Old 10-31-05, 05:40 PM
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Walmart dirty, very crowded even with few shoppers.

Target, bright, clean, lots of isle space.

I have a Walmart nearby and must shop there unless I want to travel a distance but I always laugh when I walk through their dvd section.

Since ours has no competition nearby dvds are always priced high. Walmarts 20 miles away have competition and there you can buy dvds for less.

Each Target I have seen has nice sales on dvd's, expecially on opening week, and since they are advertised they care little whether there is a Walmart nearby.

I am for Target and not for Walmart! Target does not have to be cheaper, just close, and better!
Old 10-31-05, 05:40 PM
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You can find better clearance deals at Target than at Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart hardly ever puts anything on clearance, and what little it does, the price isn't reduced by much at all.
Old 10-31-05, 05:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Gambit
You can find better clearance deals at Target than at Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart hardly ever puts anything on clearance, and what little it does, the price isn't reduced by much at all.
Thats why I used to go to the Target close to me for the clearance deals. Then they remodeled the store and the clearence items were gone for awhile. They have some clearance items now but not like it used to be.
Old 10-31-05, 06:08 PM
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Yeah, I picked up 4 Gamecube titles for $5 apiece at Target a few weeks ago. And actually things I want to play. At Wal-Mart they'll reduce an item by 5% and expect people to care.
Old 10-31-05, 10:57 PM
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I haven't noticed the Walmarts around here to be dirty. Cluttered, crowded yes, but not dirty. Of course these are all "Supercenters" (5 of them)and less than 5 years old.

The Walmart nearest me has a "Clearance" isle. Here you can buy an opened Sony "CD" drive for $59.99 or a 3 pack of blank "CD's" for $5.99 WOW!!!!!! The best bargain was probably the Hayes external 9600 baud modem for $39.99.

Our single Target store is about finished with their remodel and they had some fantastic prices on clearance stuff. Most items were at least 75% off. Lots of furniture, electronics, gardening, and linens.

Historically Target has some of the best clearance prices I've ever seen. You just have to be there at the right time and find them as they are scattered all over the store and not necessarily on an endcap or clearance isle. Sometimes not even marked as clearance!!!
Old 11-01-05, 12:47 PM
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I know both companies treat their employees like crap, but I have to agree with everything said in this thread:

I go to Target because I enjoy shopping there and I can find good deals. It's a Nice cheerful place to visit and they have unique merchandise. A little style goes a long way.

I Shop Wal-Mart because I'm out of milk and they are the lesser evil of all the shitty grocery stores we have here. It's still like the third world - nobody really wants to be there, employees or customers. Deals like at Target are far and few between and it is not a place I enjoy visiting.
Old 11-01-05, 12:58 PM
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Originally Posted by spawndude
Historically Target has some of the best clearance prices I've ever seen. You just have to be there at the right time and find them as they are scattered all over the store and not necessarily on an endcap or clearance isle. Sometimes not even marked as clearance!!!
That's another thing I like about Target. When it's not marked as clearance or doesn't have the most recent clearance amount, a lot of people will pass it by. Just bring it to one of the many scanners around the store and you may wind up with a really good deal.
Old 11-01-05, 01:07 PM
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WalMart - big; lots of selection; cheap; groceries and household; close by; generous return policies.

Target - 'cleaner/brighter' *feel* [though our Super WM isn't "dirty" it just 'feels' crowded and dark]; seems to be a more 'professional' store.

We usually go to Super WM because of the pricing--for groceries, we save 5-35% off what we would at any local grocery store, and for household stuff, if they have it, it's usually the cheapest. Two notable exceptions are dvd's and video games, but for products like that, I don't mind buying online.

Both stores have those scanners, I think every store should have at least two or three of them.
Old 11-02-05, 05:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Doc Moonlight
I
Let us review the stereotypes. Wal-Mart evokes conservative red state; Target, liberal blue state. Wal-Mart is overalls, guns, and purged lyrics; Target is high thread counts, "Tar-zhay," and Michael Graves designs. Wal-Mart is for people who can't afford full retail; Target is for those who can, but would just as soon pay less..[/I]
So let's see if I get this logic right, Target is more popular than Wal-Mart because it evokes "blue" which is attached to the blue states that indicate they voted for Kerry...WHO LOST.

Huh? I understand that in today's political climate you have to see everything as a liberal vs. conservative battle: but this is just ridiculous.

What's truly amazing to me is that the author didn't even realize that "Tar-zhay" was a derogatory put-down, not a compliment to high class.
Old 11-02-05, 05:54 PM
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Originally Posted by litza
So let's see if I get this logic right, Target is more popular than Wal-Mart because it evokes "blue" which is attached to the blue states that indicate they voted for Kerry...WHO LOST.
Kerry won by a wide margin...in Boston, where this article is about.
Old 11-02-05, 07:09 PM
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Originally Posted by chrisih8u
Kerry won by a wide margin...in Boston, where this article is about.
That's funny, everytime I turn on my TV set I see George Bush acting as though he's president.
Old 11-02-05, 09:44 PM
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But he still lost in Boston.

Apparently, winning Boston isn't what makes you President. You have to win other places, too.

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