Why Target Kicks Walmart’s Ass

For some strange reason, “T” prefers clear and bright aisles filled with well-labeled merchandise, chipper employees who direct him to appropriate departments, and a well-running checkout line with open registers to match how many customers are in the store.

That’s why he abandoned Walmart, mid-schop, for Target one night, and wrote both companies a letter describing his experience.

What a freak! His America-hating letter, inside.

“This is a joint letter to the corporate headquarters of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., and Target, Inc. I am writing to relate my recent shopping experiences at your stores in Knoxville, TN. A few nights ago, I went to our local Wal-Mart megacenter to purchase a few miscellaneous household items. I found the store in a state of near total chaos. It was about 9 pm, and customer load was moderate, but by no means overwhelming. The aisles were poorly marked, the floors universally filthy, and the shelves, where they were stocked at all, were completely disorganized. Many of the aisles held shelves piled with unmarked boxes to heights of ten feet or more. Within individual aisles, merchandise was displayed apparently at random with no clear divisions between differing products and few, if any labels or price tags. The aisles and shelves were only part of the store’s problems.

The few incredibly rude associates I encountered fit in well with their environment. Their appearance was slovenly and unkempt. Most wore non-uniform clothing in a poor state of repair and cleanliness. Despite the utter inability of the associates I encountered to direct me even to the correct departments, I gathered the items I had come for and approached the checkout counter. It was at this point my frustration reached its peak.

Of the almost thirty checkout lanes available, including numerous self checkout lanes, only six full-service and only four self-service lanes were open. In each of the six open full-service lanes, more than eight customers stood in line. At each of the self-serve terminals, at least four customers were in line. Taking the apparently faster course, I queued up in a self-service lane. Over the next twenty five minutes, each of the four self service lanes encountered a variety of problems, from lack of currency to scanner failure. None of these problems was addressed with any degree of seriousness and, when I inquired, I was told that this was “normal” and that no one on duty was trained to operate or repair the terminals. At this point, my quick shopping trip had taken over an hour, and I had yet to complete a single purchase. In disgust, I laid down my armload of sundries and left the store.

At this point, my night took a decided turn for the better. On my way home, I remembered that there was a Target store not far off my route home. I stopped and went in. My experience there could have been neither more pleasant nor more completely unlike that at Wal-Mart. I found a well-lit store with clean floors; wide, clearly marked aisles; eye-level shelves that were fully stocked and conveniently labeled. Moreover, I found friendly, knowledgeable associates who were easily identified by their neat, clean uniforms. I found everything I had come for in less than ten minutes. Over the next fifteen minutes, the ease of shopping at Target led me to accumulate a shopping cart full of merchandise. At Target, the checkout lanes were manned in proportion to the level of business and I concluded my purchases quickly. In all, I spent almost two hundred dollars at Target after having gone out for about ten dollars in light bulbs and shaving supplies.

I am a young man, but I have a number of years experience in the service-intensive hotel industry, and I make it a policy to reward good service when I find it. And that, really, is the crux of the matter: I am a young man. I have a lot of years left to shop, and a lot of things I’d like to have. In the future, my first choice, and the recipient of my disposable income will, without exception, be Target, rather than Wal-Mart.”


Edit Your Comment

  1. Plasmafire says:

    I have to agree with you, Target is vastly superior to Walmart as well as K-mart.

  2. phelander says:

    I have a nut each for both of them to suck.

  3. Phyltre says:

    I hate to say it, but Target depresses me. Locally, Target never gets as much business as Wal-Mart and the place is always deadly quiet. To me, the efforts of Target to be chic and stylish flounder when I walk in and know my money will probably go half as far in Target as it will in Wal-Mart.

    That being said, Target usually is a friendlier experience. I just can’t afford that at this point.

  4. Falconfire says:

    I found it interesting on my last visit to Walmart that they where slowly renovating the whole store to make it look like Target, even going so far as to get rid of the Walmart blue and replace it with black.

    Also its Sears not Kmart. All the Kmarts are being changed over to Sears Essencials.

  5. Wal-Mart does have problems in many areas. In the pure rural areas, they 1) are the only game in town and 2) have decent service still. The local one can be pretty quick to run thru at 10pm with the electronic scanners, IF you don’t hit the stockers hauling their stuff to refill.

    The people who stock clog the aisles, don’t care about the consumer and generally are giant pains in the rear. I’ve had them push me out of the way without a please or thank you and when I confronted them they got really pissy. I figured out later they were paid to stock but the faster they got out, the faster they clock out.

    sorry dudes. you took the jobs. stop being retards.

  6. etinterrapax says:

    They tell you in Wal-Mart associate training that the towering aisles of merchandise are a signal to the customer of endless abundance. Something about this supposedly makes people want to buy more. It made sense to me when I worked for them, but I think it contributes to people’s sense that the store is dirty and dim. Wal-Mart also places a high priority on the maximum variety of items in the store. But there isn’t much point in having 100,000 units available if no one wants to shop there.

    I definitely prefer to shop at Target. It’s always clean, never overcrowded, and the merchandise is priced competitively. For me, it’s not the nickels and dimes that cause issues, but buying things I don’t need or that won’t get used up or worn out (or wear out/break too quickly). In that sense, I find Target to be as good, or better, value.

  7. Nifle says:

    Viva La TARGET! I’m in love with the chain and if it was legal, I would probably marry it. Thank goodness that I’m holding out for Ben!

  8. DeeJayQueue says:

    Target is to Walmart as Bloomingdales is to the Swap-Meet.

    Right at around 9pm they start bringing pallettes out so they can do their nightly filling and stocking. They don’t care about customers, half of them aren’t wearing aprons, nor will they respond to questions or any verbal stimulus whatsoever. The only “real” associates are up at the checkout lanes, but they’re having personal family drama and can’t be bothered to help you. By that time, if you’re lucky enough to have survived the slalom of impassible aisles and haphazardly stacked/placed pallettes and you’ve managed to get to the checkout, good luck because half the stuf you picked up won’t be priced right if you’re paying attention, and you better be paying attention because the cashier sure won’t be.

    Target on the other hand, is a different story. Most of them close at 10pm. Yeah, at 9:30 some of the associates might be a bit surly, but they’re all mostly on registers anyway, checking out the last few people in the store so they can finish up their areas and go home. Since they’ve got an overnight stock crew that works while there are no customers in the building you never have to see staged freight on the floor unless you’re there at like 9:55 or something. Some items are more expensive, but I get the impression that the quality of those items is higher than what you’d find at wal-mart. When I worked there there was a good sense of morale among the employees, I seem to recall a good benefit structure, and a fair tenure system for full-timers. Just another example of getting what you pay for. Happy, well-paid employees make for a better, cleaner store and a more pleasant and repeatable shopping experience.

  9. KevinQ says:

    My experiences with Target and Wal-Mart mirrors the post and some of the comments. Target is clean and well-stocked. Wal-Mart is a dirty, jumbled mess.

    A manager of mine used to be a store manager at Target, and he explained one of the reasons this way: Target has a “Four Light” Rule. Anywhere in the store, you should be able to look straight down, and seen the clear reflection of the four lightbulbs in the fixture above you. This makes it a focus of the employees to keep the floor mopped and waxed, which helps it look clean, and to keep the bulbs changed, which helps it look bright and friendly.

    Politics are a perfectly fine reason to not shop at Wal-Mart, but sometimes it seems like they’re actively trying to keep people away.


  10. Has anyone ever noted that Target seems to have a propensity for hiring cute high school girls to run their checkout lines? :P

  11. SpecialK says:

    Bunch of sissies. Back when we were growing up, we had to HUNT for our bargains. Literally. You went down to the local Benjamin Franklin with a Bowie Knife and headed over to the clearance aisle where you stabbed and slashed your way to savings. Then Wal-Mart came along with its so-called everyday low prices and you kids just started getting lazier and lazier. Why, now, you won’t even dodge a stock-cart or two, put up with a crotch-grabbing associate or deal with a dirty floor.
    What next? You’ll demand to be carried about your discount stores on litters with your Mexican nannies fanning you with palm fronds.

  12. Morton Fox says:

    “T” went to Target for $10 worth of supplies but spent over $200?? I like Target too, but I have to say that he overspent.

  13. Ishmael says:

    It all depends on what you’re looking for. I shop at WalMart for my groceries, because it’s the only store within 30 miles of home. The store here is usually pretty clean, and the shelves stocked, even on Saturday mornings. It’s not too hard to run through there at 9:30 at night when you realize you’re out of eggs.

    I will drive the 40 miles to Target for anything other than groceries. The Target here isn’t a Super Target, just a regular one. My problem with Target is that I usually have trouble navigating the isles. No, it’s not stockers and their freight, it’s pregnant women and their moms, or else young mothers with 4 kids, and they’re not keeping an eye on any of them. It’s a good thing I’m a nice person, or kicking children might become a fun pasttime.

  14. sp3nc3 says:

    That letter perfectly described every Wal*Mart experience I’ve ever had. I once found myself in a Wal*Mart checkout line wondering, “To work here, is it a prerequisite to have a physical deformity, mental deficiency, and/or a veneral disease?”

    The only reasons that Wal*Mart ever gets any of my business are that my grocery budget stretches a lot further, and they’re open 24-hours.

  15. bambino says:

    sp3nc3, that’s a very mean-spirited thing to say. Believe me, I’m the king of mean spirits when people deserve it, but put yourself in that part-time worker’s shoes and imagine having to deal with jerks like you when you’re not even getting benefits.

  16. Triteon says:

    I have but one good thing to say about Wal-Mart: they have the best distribution network in the country. But I still wouldn’t buy a bottle of water from them in the Sahara.
    Target is not my favorite place either. However, right before Christmas ’04 I went there as a last resort, looking for an iPod for my kid. They had 4! Under the counter! The very nice kid (wish I had his name) gave the quick look around and pulled two of them out for me (U2 version and the regular 20mb), let me select one and put the other away.

  17. etinterrapax says:

    Yeah, sp3nc3. That was mean. The real requirements are a pulse and a complete lack of self-respect. Desperation will also do.

    Seriously, though. My hometown paper did a profile on several of my co-workers shortly after I stopped working at that location, and one of the reasons I’ll never shop there again is that they specialize in kicking people while they’re down. I was lucky…it was not my only option. But for a single mom with barely a high school education, it was what kept her family off welfare. For some people, that is an indignity beyond mention. Unfortunately, they probably still needed Medicaid, and more than likely went without dentistry, since in that state, at that time, not a single Medicaid dentist was accepting new patients. No working person should be reduced to that.

  18. North of 49 says:

    We shop at the local walmart and its a cramped store. About 1/2 the size of the walmart the next city over too. Cramped is putting it mildly. I’d rather shop at the next one where at least I don’t get a claustraphobic feel.

    But for target, we’d have to do a run for the border first. No big deal at the moment, but it will be in about a year’s time or so. Passports for a family of 5 just to go shopping? Over 250.00 nevermind pictures, birth certificates etc.

  19. Rick Dobbs says:

    I guess this needs to be re-stated every once in a while, but Target being better than Wal-Mart isn’t exactly “news.”

    And to everyone that works at Wal-Mart, *I* didn’t ask you to work there, if the job sucks because you don’t get benefits or whatever, remember that. You chose the job, so do it well.

    Even if it’s the only choice of job, you might as well make the best of it and not be a miserable person. Thanks.

  20. Magister says:

    The Wal-Mart associates gather around the water cooler to gossip about that uppity girl that got her GED. She thinks she is so special…

  21. Ran Kailie says:

    I go to Wal-Mart only when I need something I know they have cheaper, and when I know exactly what I want, it isn’t much and its an off hour.

    Target on the other hand is an addiction. I can easily go there to spent 10-20 bucks and come out with over 100 bucks in stuff. They always have awesome stuff, especially their seasonal stuff. And around back to school time the selection of stuff is great.

    The store is always clean, well lit and the workers are almost always willing to help out. The prices are good, around the same as Wal-Mart and its overall a less stressful shopping experience.

  22. RandomHookup says:

    I remember Wal-Mart in the early days in Arkansas (Store #18 was in my town) and they made up for less than stellar pay by having a pretty good stock program for the employees. I’m sure more than a few retired greeters are sitting in West Palm Beach welcoming everyone to their backyard pool.

    Of course, the market couldn’t keep that up. but it was fun while it lasted.

  23. AcidReign says:

    …..I like Target better, too. But our local Target is located on the choked, massive, hopelessly gridlocked US Highway 280. It typically takes about 45 minutes to an hour to drive the ten miles from my house. I can drive to Sam’s Club and Walmart (who share a parking lot) in five minutes. And Target’s a lot more expensive for groceries, even eclipsing the local grocery companies. And that $12 a pound T-Bone is going to be spoiled before I can get home. With two active teenaged kids raiding the fridge at all hours, I can’t afford Target.

  24. spinachdip says:

    Of course no one forced the grumpy WalMart employees to work there, but I can imagine places where people have little choice if WalMart is the only game in town.

    That said, employee behavior tends to be a reflection of training and management philosophy. If they treat customers like shit, that’s probably because they’re trained to.

  25. Anonymously says:

    I think that WalMart keeps their lines 4-8 customers deep on purpose. I’m willing to bet they’ve done studies and know the exact amount of registers that have to be open at that exact moment to keep the customers in the store just long enough that they don’t walk out in frustration.

  26. I’ll throw my vote in as well. I love Target and actively avoid Wal Mart at all costs. The only time I dare set foot in Wal Mart is at 8 AM on a Saturday morning to get synthetic motor oil…they always have the cheapest price on that stuff…

  27. Ishmael says:

    What do ya know? I just got back from a shopping trip in the next town over, and we went to Target. That whole 4-light thing? It’s true! I checked every isle we went down, and there were at least 10 light reflections.

    MMMmm, Shiny.

  28. sp3nc3 says:

    I’m one to admit when I’m wrong, and wrong I was. I apologize.

  29. billhelm says:

    Wal Mart and Target are aiming at different segments of the population. So this isn’t so surprising…

  30. amazon says:

    sp3nc3: You were mostly wrong. It is a requirement for the greeters. (I know, I worked for wm for 2 years)

  31. e says:

    The last time I attempted to buy something from WalMart, I was looking for a fan. I couldn’t find where they might be in the maze that is that store, and when I asked an associate where they would be, she laughed at me.

    That was a couple years ago and I haven’t bought anything there since.

    I also boycott the store because they don’t put women in management positions, allow their workers to unionize, etc.

    Viva Target!

  32. kerry says:

    Honestly? They both suck. When Chicago enacted their “big box” living wage ordinance both Target and WalMart put their new Chicago store plans “on hold.” AFAIK there isn’t currently a WalMart within Chicago city limits, and there aren’t any Targets reasonably accessible by public transportation from where I live or work. So I say nuts to the both of them and shop locally. I may pay more to shop locally, but at least their undocumented immigrant workers (read: my neighbors) get paid decently.

  33. Dustbunny says:

    Most of the shoppers at my local WalMart look like they’re either out on parole or headed for jail very soon. Target OTOH, is fabulous. I always find amazing tchotchkes there — got some trendy white vases recently that looked exactly like the ones West Elm was selling, only for about half the price.

  34. TPIRman says:

    Can we, as consumers, agree to use “employees” instead of the bullshit word “associates”?

  35. guruscotty says:

    I also hate Hell*Mart. I will go in at odd times to get great deals on stuff like cold medicine; but, at peak times, I’d rather have a wire brush enema.

    Hell*Mart just makes me want scream “USE A FREAKIN’ CONDOM” to the dirty families with seven kids blocking the narrow, filthy aisles. Seriously, who needs seven children? Three, maybe four, but at some point, you have too many.

  36. Anonymous says:

    For those of you who think Target is better than Walmart, well, the crowded Walmart stores and the empty Target stores tell their own stories. Also, if you think no one hates Target, go to this website;

  37. Wet_Baloney says:

    I don’t like shopping at “big box” stores period (the exception being Costco), but occasionally I find it necessary. Target is tolerable — at least it’s clean and well laid out. Wal-Mart just has some kind of unquantifiable low-life vibe to it. I can’t put my finger on it exactly, but when I’m in a Wal-Mart I just don’t want to touch anything. It’s almost like you would get the cooties or something…And I would NEVER eat anything there. I could not possibly be fit for human consumption.

  38. kit67 says:

    well i have to say that i think walmart has poor service… Quailty in items,,, and not enough employees to really help out.. they dont have any idea what merchandise they have and lie on the phone and say yes we have that and in fact that havent had the item for several months… I am definitely going and looking at target for some things i need tomorrow. Walmart can just do with out my business.

  39. sellorcell says:

    THANK GOD FOR CELL PHONES!!! It’s pretty bad when your in your local Walmart and have to call the place just to get someone in a department to help you. I had to call THREE times during one trip. Yes, I guess I was rude but a normal 45 min. trip should not have taken 2 1/2 hours!!
    Give me a break, someone should be able to be found in a department if you spend 30 minutes in that department looking for a specific item.
    Am I right?? Or is it just me??

  40. rascalflatts74 says: