Target, Where A Flash Drive Is A Good Substitute For A Flash Bulb

They do both contain the word "flash."

They do both contain the word “flash.”

Shopping for a flash to go with your new Canon camera? That item is out of stock at Target, but how about another product with the word “flash” in its description?

Once again, the “Instant Substitute” gnomes are having fun with Target shoppers. This time, Consumerist reader Jordan noticed that the store’s solution for shoppers trying to buy a Targus camera flash was to point them toward the 32GB Lexar Flash Drive, which might have a blinking light or two on it.

A more appropriate DIY suggestion that also uses the word “flash” might have been to point customers to the flashlights, as at least they would provide the camera user with a light source.

A few years back, an anonymous Target employee provided a rather detailed explanation for the retailer’s sometimes insane Instant Substitute suggestions.

“A substitution isn’t a real substitution, it’s Target’s way of saying, ‘F***, we have no more of this, and we have a rain check for you, but we’re going to immediately put something else on sale right now that you might enjoy also,'” wrote the employee at the time. “Stores actually get graded on how many substitutions are attached to rain checks. The more substitutions, the higher the score, the higher the store ranks in their region.”

While this does make some more sense of why you see such random suggestions, it’s something that most customers aren’t aware of when they are shopping. So perhaps the store needs to come up with a better name than “Instant Substitute,” because that only seems to cause confusion when shoppers like Jordan come across head-scratchers like the one seen above.

We’d love to hear from current Target employees to see if the info provided back in early 2010 regarding Instant Substitutes and pricing peculiarities is still accurate. If you work at the store and want to provide some insight, shoot us an e-mail at

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