Over Easy: With West Lebanon big-box store coming, I’m not the Target demographic

  • Dan Mackie (Courtesy photograph)

For the Valley News
Published: 11/6/2021 11:30:12 AM
Modified: 11/6/2021 11:30:12 AM

In case you haven’t been paying attention to happenings in the quaint Route 12A shopping district, the news has caught up to the rumor mills: The new Target store is supposed to open tomorrow in the old Kmart space.

Valley News editors limit exclamation points, so let’s get them out of the way. Target! Tomorrow! Excitement on Aisle 2! And every other aisle, too!

OMG!!!

Happy speculation about Target has been ruling online life for months now. It’s been fireworks and unicorns and smiling face, smiling face, smiling face all the way. When someone posted on the Upper Valley Facebook Group that they heard that opening day had been delayed, a pall briefly fell over the region, like a smelly day at the dump. But somebody knew somebody whose cousin’s brother-in-law’s younger brother was working on construction at the site, and he heard from the sister of a truck driver from upstate New York who made a delivery there once that everything was right on schedule. So there.

I don’t blame would-be shoppers who are looking for something new. Speculation about the still-stocked soda case at the D’Angelo’s, which closed three years ago, was getting kind of old. The only thing fascinating about the zombie gas station next to the zombie laundromat has been the remarkable life cycle of weeds.

I am channeling community excitement about Target, not so much my own. I’m not the biggest shopper. If I need a pair of pants, I go and buy a pair of pants. Then I put them on and my wife, Dede, tells me they are too long or too short and she goes and buys a better pair of pants. I suppose I should cut out the middleman, me, and save some effort.

When I was very young, we had department stores where actual employees who knew something about the areas they worked in would help with such things, but now corporations try (or have to) operate giant discount stores with three to six employees and you have to send out a volunteer search party to find one.

But still, Target is coming, Target is coming. (I feel an exclamation in my heart but resist adding any more high-strung punctuation to the printed page or online edition. If Shakespeare could express himself without emoji, I can handle this.)

I have been to Target stores in Concord and South Burlington and I don’t recall that my life changed. But I am the kind of guy that could wander around a giant store and leave after an hour with nothing but a can of mixed nuts, if they’re on sale.

I understand that Target has a certain something, because it employs designers who design things for people who appreciate design. This happens even as prices are competitive, I guess. This is the age of miracles and wonders.

I went to the Target website to learn more. Target is awfully high-minded about its mission: “to help all families discover the joy of everyday life.” It also aims to provide “the promise of surprises, fun, ease and inspiration at every turn.”

Me? I have some coffee first thing in the morning and decide if it’s worth it to brush my teeth and shave. After that, I just take things as they come.

But maybe I could find “everyday joy” in the right aisle. In my imagination, the sign at the end, called an aisle marker, might have listings like this, inspired by a song from the ’60s:

AISLE 9

Age of Aquarius

Harmony

Understanding

Sympathy and Trust Abounding

Dawn Dish Soap

I learned on Target.com that the chain has more than 350,000 employees and that 75% of the U.S. population lives within 10 miles of one of its stores. (Sorry, Croydon.) Vermont was the last state in the union to host a Target, in 2018.

Something to contemplate: A 2018 Morning Consult poll found that Republicans rate Walmart more favorably, while Democrats lean Target.

I have suspicions about what that means, but in my household we are not making a political statement when we buy paper towels or laundry detergent. Our toilet paper selection is particularly nonpartisan, and I won’t share anything more personal than that.

The bottom line is that Target is almost here, and even as you are reading this the rest of your life is before you. There indeed may be a surprise around every corner. For me, that usually means I’m about to bump into someone else’s cart, but you may do better, much much better.

You may find joy. Or mixed nuts. Life is full of surprises like that.

Dan Mackie lives in West Lebanon. He can be reached at dan.mackie@yahoo.com.




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