Target is definitely one of the most popular places to shop in America, with close to 2,000 stores nationwide. If you need to grocery shop for a barbecue, pick up a new bathing suit, or get a new video game, Target is always a safe bet to score what you need. But there’s a darker, stranger side behind the curtains that most of us wouldn’t expect from the megastore.
Some staff members have decided to spill the beans and give you a taste of their experiences and escapades, along with some interesting, little-known facts. These glimpses into one of America’s most well-known companies are sure to surprise you. Read on to find out more!
Speaking of name tags, oddly enough, Target doesn’t print the job titles of their employees on them. Paul Rados, who used to work for Target when he was in college, says that made finding a person in management very difficult for both customers and new employees.
Why would Target feel the need to not advertise the titles of their workers? Some might say it’s an effort to prevent management from getting flooded by customers and workers alike. Not having a title allows them to seamlessly blend into the background, without being constantly pursued and questioned by everyone around them.
They Redesigned the Shopping Cart
Metal shopping carts are heavy, hard to steer, and are prone to smash into shins and shelves. Back in 2006, Target decided to hire a company to engineer a new model for a more ideal shopping care – one that less heavy, easier to maneuver, and caused less damage.
What they came up with was almost 20 pounds lighter, steered smoothly, and made of plastic. The trend caught on, and today more retail stores have followed Target’s lead and remodeled their shopping carts, too. Just goes to show you that even the most basic ideas can always be improved upon.
Everyone Shops on Sundays
More and more people are skipping church and heading out to brave the crowds and load up on stuff. A lot of employees say that Sunday is by far the busiest day: waves of people continually roll inside and flood every aisle and crevice, clogging up the store and stalling the check-out lines.
A pro-tip from employees – choose literally any other day to do your shopping and save yourself a lot of time. The madness of trying to navigate swarms of people on a Sunday just to buy some frozen burritos or a new coffee pot isn’t worth it.
There’s a Cheat Sheet for Savvy Shoppers
How can you know if an item is going to be marked down again or go on sale?
Here’s a little secret we’ve been let in on: if the price ends in $0.06 or $0.08, it will be marked down again in the future, but if the price ends in $0.04, that is the final price and it’s officially on clearance.
Also, if you take a peek at the small number in the upper right-hand corner of the price tag, that is the percentage taken off the original price. Keep this in mind the next time you’re pinching pennies.
Their Mascot Flies First Class
Target’s mascot, an adorable white pooch named Bullseye, gets the royal treatment when he’s traveling on business. That’s right – Target hooks up their favorite pup with a seat in first class, so he can bask in all the luxurious amenities his little heart desires.
Another fun fact is that the beloved doggie even has his own closet full of clothes for special events. How many dogs do you know that live such a fancy-pants life, rolling through the skies in style? Not many, we’re going to bet. Privilege has its perks, even if you’re a pup.
There’s a Trusty Schedule for Sales
Need a new grill? Looking for a good deal on lipstick? Depending on what you need, you might want to visit the store on certain days of the week. As luck would have it, Target has a predictable schedule for sales.
Lucky for you, we can clue you in: Monday – electronics, books, stationary, accessories, and kids clothing; Tuesday – women’s clothing, pet products, and market food items; Wednesday – men’s clothing, furniture, and garden items; Thursday – lingerie, luggage, shoes, sports, and housewares; Friday – jewelry, hardware, cosmetics and autocare.
Write this down and keep it handy. Next time you need something, pop in on that special day and save a few bucks.
Target has a lot of decorative housegoods on display, and anything with alphabetic characters on it provides an opportunity for mischievous customers to spell out dirty messages. You can always count on the general public to indulge in its darker tendency to compose something obscene just for kicks.
If there are letter lamps on a shelf, or a set of alphabetic magnets on a fridge, rest assured that it’s only a matter of time before an inventive mix of foul-mouthed, four-letter words scrawl out something filthy. Of course, this is totally uncool and out of line with Target’s desired image, so workers are constantly rushing to the scene and scurrying to undo the damage of every perverted poet on the premises.
The shoe section is continually rifled through, and by the time the day is over, the floor looks like a bloodbath of shoelaces and tissue paper, littered with a mess of mismatched and gutted boxes.
The worst part is that if a worker can’t clean it up quickly, other customers see it as an invitation to just throw their stuff on the floor, too. It eventually just devolves into a confusing, chaotic cluster of footwear that blankets the carpet. All of that madness needs to be untangled eventually, so the Target team burns the midnight oil every night, trying to make sense of it all, knowing full well that all of those shoes will be ripped to shreds again by the hands of the general public.
Punished…For Working Too Much
Some folks go the extra mile, but end up getting screwed. Take Jason Kellner, for example, who was a manager at Target who got fired for working off the clock. You’d think that working for no money would be appreciated by those above him, but instead, Kellner was canned.
The reason? Target has a policy against employees clocking back in after a break of less than 30 minutes. Kellner claims he was frequently interrupted during his breaks and essentially forced to work without pay. To make matters worse, many workers say that Target discourages employees from criticizing them by cutting their hours if they speak up.
Management Varies Wildly
Even though Target is one company with a single vision, each store has it’s own personality, management-wise. The success of each store depends a lot upon how effective a manager is. One store can have an amazing manager who knows how to lead a team, but another can have a ringleader from hell at the helm.
Many workers say there’s been a bad shift in how they’re treated and compensated. Unfortunately, even if they try and unionize, there’s a good chance the effort will be squashed out by Target’s mysterious fleet of union busters who fly around in private jets to sniff out rumors of protest.
Do You Work Here?
Amazingly, many customers can’t tell who works at Target and who doesn’t, despite all employees wearing bright red shirts emblazoned with a name tag and the well-known Target logo.
You’d think that wearing all of that would be a tell-tale sign, but think again: many workers at Target say that customers usually feel the need to ask them if they work there, rather than fully recognizing the clear signs that they do.
Take a moment to imagine people asking you the same question constantly when the answer is literally written on your chest.
“Tarjay” is an Old Joke
A lot of people spin the pronunciation and say “Tarjay” to make Target sound like a romantic French boutique – but did you know that silly joke goes all the way back to the 60s? Douglas Dayton, who inherited the business along with his brothers, remembered people making the same joke back at their first location in Minneapolis in 1962. It turns out our affinity for putting a French spin on the word Target goes back decades.
Is it because we hear other people saying it, which perpetuates the cycle? Or do we have a bizarre inclination to feign French when we’re around the red bullsyeye? Either way, it’s fun to say – and we’ve been saying it for a long time.
Target Rose From the Ashes of a Church Fire
More than a century ago, the Westminister Presbyterian Church burned to the ground on a lot of property in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Before the cinders and smoke had cleared the air, a real estate developer named George Dayton saw a golden opportunity.
Dayton scooped up the scorched property and erected a six-story building. He persuaded a retail store to move in, which would eventually grow into the flagship store we know today. You’d think that starting a business under those kinds of circumstances would be a bad omen, but launching their company on a bed of hot coals was actually a stroke of good fortune.
They Repaired an American Emblem
The Washington Monument is one of the most recognizable structures in the world.
Back in the late 90s, after nearly a century and a half after it was first constructed, the Washington Monument was looking pretty battered. Weather and time had eroded the American symbol of strength and freedom down – which was something Target didn’t take kindly to.
So, they took it upon themelves to donate one million dollars to a restoration project that lasted for three years.
The statue isn’t new to delays and repairs: it sat unfinished for about 25 years when it was first constructed, bogged down by a lack of funds and a growing Civil War.
Squeaky Wheels Can Drive You Crazy
Remember how we said Target redesigned the shopping cart? Well, one important thing was overlooked: the wheels. They can still jam up and rust and basically drive everyone insane.
Working a long shift at Target is draining enough, but imagine hearing the incessant shriek of a squeaky wheel for hours and hours on end. The sound of grinding metal eventually becomes a hellish soundtrack to score the misery and dread inside your head, until you want to personally smash and dismantle every shopping cart in the building, like some kind of weird wheel-demolishing vigilante dressed in red and khaki.
People Never Put Things Back
A lot of guests will just walk up, take something off the shelf, look at it for a moment, and then put it back somewhere else. Even if they didn’t walk away and leave the aisle – even if they’re still standing in the same exact same spot where they picked it up.
One worker says he saw a customer pick up a box of peanuts and then immediately shove it between two bags of chips. After a while, it just starts to feel like people enjoy making a mess and wreaking havoc on anything that is nice and organized.
“Expect More. Pay Less.”
There’s an inside joke among workers at Target that their slogan, “Expect more. Pay less” also applies to how poorly they’re treated.
Target has somehow managed to cultivate an image that’s bit more elevated than Walmart. Unfortunately, a lot of Target team members don’t see much of a difference. Target is the fourth largest low-paying employer in the United States, and many workers toil for years for depressingly meager wage increases, sometimes as low as 10 cents a year, despite Target employing more than 340,000 people nationwide and the CEO, Gregg Steinhafel, making about $14,000 per hour.
Many Target employees are forced to use public assistance programs to supplement their income, because their benefits and earnings are so low.
They Know When You’re Pregnant
When a teenage girl in Minnesota got pregnant, Target began sending her coupons in the mail for baby supplies, much to the surprise of her father. How did Target know she was expecting? Target used their complex system of purchasing data to determine that women who buy products such as mineral supplements, unscented lotions, and cotton balls have a good chance of being with child.
They take that information and plug it into a formula, and if the odds are good, they mail people coupons that reflect what the data suggests would be most needed. In the case of the teenage girl in Minnesota, it’s no stretch to say that Target was aware she was pregnant before her own family members did.
Someone Once Hijacked the Sound System and Played Porn
Folks at a Target in San Luis Obispo, California got more than they bargained for one afternoon when someone took over the store’s public address system and graced their airwaves with the sounds of pleasure.
Managers couldn’t figure out how to stop the moaning and groaning, so they literally evacuated the store for damage control. It was only after everyone had left the building that they finally realized how to put an end to the aural orgasms.
What would compel a person to do such a thing? We’ll never know. One thing’s for sure, though: the world of Target is way weirder than we thought it was.
Alex From Target
In November 2014, the photo of a young Target employee went viral on the Internet. Alex Lee, who was only 16-years-old at the time, became an internet sensation (mostly among teenaged girls) after the Internet saw how good looking Lee was. He amassed 100,000 Twitter followers overnight and was even offered modeling contracts.
However, the instant popularity did not fare well when Lee admitted to The New York Times that he has received death threats and had found the social security numbers of his family posted online. He has since capitalized on his internet fame by becoming a viral celebrity going on tours, doling out his own merchandise, and being featured in movies and music videos.
The Doritos Are In The Refrigerated Aisle
Well, not all the time. In 2014, many people noticed that Target was displaying their Dorito supply in the coolers alongside other refrigerated foods. Was someone not doing their job right? Or were they trying to play a harmless joke? The Internet was quite confused as to why Target would do this, but Target actually had a reason.
That year, they were promoting a recipe for “walking tacos,” which is like a taco bowl in a bag of chips. The recipe calls for shredded cheese, meats, and other taco toppings that are normally found in the coolers. You pile all the ingredients into the bag and you have a walking taco! So really, Target was just trying to make things easier for you.
Big Red Balls
Those giant red concrete balls that are distinctive of any Target storefront are actually there to serve a purpose other than decoration. Called “bollards,” the balls are there to keep cars from driving into the store and running over Target shoppers. That’s interesting to know, since this whole time we’ve just been climbing the balls and playing leap frog with them as children.
In the summer of 2007, Target tried to be a little festive by putting a colored fabric over the balls so that they would resemble beach balls. However, this did not pan out well since it proved to be a dangerous safety hazard to children who would try to kick or bounce the balls, only to hurt themselves on the concrete.
Ever with the times, in 2015 Target announced that they would no longer display signs that are based off of someone’s gender. Hoping to create a better balance for Target shoppers, they’ve eliminated verbiage that suggests items are specifically for girls or boys. They’ve even changed the color schemes of certain departments to reflect the same idea.
Target has said, “Historically, guests have told us that sometimes–for example, when shopping for someone they don’t know well–signs that sort by brand, age or gender help them get ideas and find things faster. But we know that shopping preferences and needs change and, as guests have pointed out, in some departments like Toys, Home or Entertainment, suggesting products by gender is unnecessary.”
The Best Department
One Reddit user called “TargetSlave” hosted an Ask Me Anything forum to answer questions the Internet might have about working at Target. One user asked what was the best department to work in. TargetSlave, who has worked at Target for six years and has had the pleasure of experiencing every department, determined that electronics was their favorite.
“It’s not generally a super-busy section,” they said, “but you still have someone staffing the counter. That means you spend a lot of the day just hanging out tapping your keys on the counter and taking occasional phone calls. Also, since a lot of the electronics stuff is locked up, you don’t have to worry about people making a mess of the merchandise.”
Exasperation At Its Finest
Of course, with any employee AMA, there is always someone who asks about the craziest, most memorable, or worst customers a former employee has ever had to deal with. TargetSlave shared the story of an encounter they had with a middle-aged woman who was being rude to them at the cash register. They prefaced the story by saying that it is Target policy for customers to take out their ID and hand it to the cashier.
After scanning a bottle of wine, TargetSlave asked to see the woman’s ID. “After giving me a ton of attitude, she finally pulled out her wallet and flashed it to me inside the little transparent pocket. However, that wasn’t acceptable by Target policies, so I asked her to take it out. This really sent her flying off the handle. She went off on a huge, loud rant, and started attracting a crowd. My supervisor came over… backed me up and told the woman we’d need her to pull it out. So, finally, this woman yells, ‘You want to see my license?! FINE!’ She grabs a pair of scissors, and she proceeded to cut her leather wallet to shreds. Out of the scrap she pulls out her ID and throws it on the counter.”
More Than Just Customer Service
Target claims that there a ton of other job titles and positions at Target that people don’t know about. If you don’t want to be a salesperson or their manager, you can be a textile designer, pharmacist, architect, banker, even a librarian. That is, of course, probably if you expand beyond your local Target and make it to their headquarters.
They’ve even had rocket scientists work for them. On their blog, they wrote “Did you know that a member of the Product Design & Development team is a rocket scientist? He was heavily involved in launching the Missoni for Target collection in 2011.”
Target’s Own Chefs
Target also has a test kitchen with a team of food scientists who develop products for Target’s own food brand, Archer Farms and Market Pantry. They create and taste all the products that Target sells, from Oatmeal to frozen pizza. They even develop recipes that Target-goers can follow with food they pick up from the store.
The best part about the Test Kitchen, however, is Cake Week! Five times a year, more than 100 cake designs are evaluated. That is a lot of cake to work through! Good thing Target has a lot of employees to help eat it all.
Target Employee Networks
Despite claims of how poorly Target treats its employees, they all can gather together in the fact that they are all Target employees. Aside from that commonality, there are bound to be a ton of other interests that the employees share. There are more than 90 networks within Target that cater to specific team member interests.
Love dogs? Target employees can join the Bow Wows. Love to sing? Target even has its own acapella group called The Spots. So even if Target employees find themselves frustrated by their jobs, they can find solace and community with other fellow employees who share their same interests and woes.
Target Gives Back
Every division of Target — Target headquarters, all Target stores, the distributions centers, and regional offices — give back to their local communities. Community Captains are enlisted to coordinate projects of volunteerism and service. Through “localized grant giving,” they’ve created programs like Target’s Books for Schools Award, which gives a $500 book award to a local school of particular Target teams.
In 2013, Target team members collectively tracked more than one million volunteer hours by getting involved in local community programs like Target School Library Makeovers, Meals for Minds, Reading Buddies, and numerous book festivals. Target strives for big contributions and they were committed to giving $1 billion for education by the end of 2015.
Against Guns and Drugs
In 1996, Target ceased sales of tobacco products, which was earlier than many of their retail counterparts. According to The New York Times, “it was costing too much to keep them out of the hands of minors.” Teen smoking was the primary concern behind Target’s decision to take cigarettes off shelves, in addition to the fact that “cigarettes accounted for less than half of 1 percent of its $15.8 billion in sales” in 1995.
Target doesn’t sell guns either and have a strict no-carrying policy in all of their stores in response to the wave of mass shootings that have befallen America.
Target At Goodwill
Although already considered a discount retailer, if you’re looking for Target items that are even more discounted than they are in the clearance section, you might want to check out Goodwill. If items that are on sale still don’t sell, Target will donate the items to Goodwill.
According to a blog called Target Addict, this is true but you have to be able to find the store that your local Target donates to. The blog also mentions that Goodwill will sell the item for more than the lowest price that Target was trying to sell it for. The blogger saw a dress that was $9.99 on clearance at Target, but Goodwill was selling it for $12.
An Employee’s First Week At Target
In 2016, Tumblr user Tom Grennell posted about his first week working at Target. The hilarious account of his experiences that week have quickly gone viral and many were amused to discover what it was like working at Target from his point of view.
Of his first day alone, he wrote “Sold a bra to a mom of a sixteen year old girl who was cringing the entire time,” “Gave dozens of children stickers. Several of them squealed when they got them. This is the best part of my job,” and “Sold an old man $200 of furniture and got him to sign up for a Target credit card. Before he finished the last step, he turned and walked away with his cart without a word. He still hadn’t paid. I called him back and he apologized, saying ‘sorry, sometimes my diabetes makes me do that,’ He didn’t finish getting the card.”
Target Employee’s Kindness Goes Viral
Early in 2016, the Facebook post of Indiana woman Sarah Bigler went viral after she recounted her experience at a recent Target trip. Tired and trying to wrangle her children after a long day, Bigler got in line at Target only to be frustrated after the old woman in front of her was holding up the line, paying for each item individually with coins.
Bigler’s reaction is normally how anyone would be if they saw this, but then she noticed the patience and kindness with which the young Target employee, Ishmael Gilbert, was helping the old woman. It humbled Bigler to see her children watching Gilbert handle the customer with care, who said that he was just doing his job and treating the old woman how he would want to be treated.
An Odd Request
Despite employees like Ishmael Gilbert who maintain a coolness in pressured situations, there are many other Target employees who are at their wits’ end working for the company. These employees have actually banded together on a site called ihatetarget.net to express their frustrations.
One employee had to call in sick to miss work due to learning of the death of her grandmother earlier that day. She expressed that her supervisor was dismayed at the news, told her she should have called earlier they had time to find a replacement, and asked how much time off she needed. She mentions that the tone in the supervisor’s voice made it sound as if they thought she was making it up and was even asked to bring her grandmother’s obituary when she returned!
Keeping You Off The Clock
Gawker.com has also collected stories from former employees who claim that Target is “The Sketchiest Place I Ever Worked,” after the firing of Jason Kellner for working off the clock. One reader said that they were scheduled to work late until 11 PM and had a party to attend after. The former employee notes that in order to leave you need to tidy up your section and can’t go until a manager checks it. The employee did this and was allowed to clock out at 10:50 PM.
However, after clocking out, he couldn’t leave because the doors were locked to prevent employees from leaving early. He asked the manager to unlock the door for him, but he didn’t come right away. After 40 minutes and other employees who were waiting for the doors to be unlocked, he yelled at the manager over the store intercom which got him into an argument with the manager, which got him fired. Of the experience, he writes: “Target has a history of not allowing people to work full time and sending them home early if they get close to it. They also don’t seem to mind locking you in a store, off the clock. I bet I would have been let out earlier if I tried to clean a section while off the clock though.”
Another former employee has said that Target would schedule them for 10 hour shifts without paying overtime. How? “What they would do is schedule me to work from 4:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. The catch was that you couldn’t leave until the work was done. [After taking scheduled breaks they would] work through the night until all the work was done. Every night they would lock us in the store until 2-3 a.m. in the morning.”
The former employee recounts that managers would rush the employees to clean their sections and make them clean other sections if they finished early. No one could leave the store until everything was clean and ready for the next day. The ex-employee ends the story by saying: “I asked about overtime once and they said that you only got overtime if you worked more than 8 hours in a single day. Since they started us so late in the afternoon we would never work more than 8 hours in a single day because our shifts were being split at midnight.”
The Best Mascot
Bullseye the Bull Terrier has been Target’s mascot since 1999. In addition to his previously mentioned first-class flights and tailored wardrobe, being Target’s popular pup comes with a lot of work! Bullseye and his distinctive bullseye tattoo that surround his left eye, have been featured on more than 25 Target GiftCards. The bullseye is painted with a vegetable-based cosmetic paint that is approved by the Humane Society. Bullseye even has his own professional make-up artist who puts it on!
Bullseye has become so iconic, that he was the first animal to have its own wax figure at Madam Tussaud’s in New York.
When You’re Too Lazy To Drive To Target
If you go on a Target trip and make a dozen impulse purchases, then you’re not alone. Unfortunately, a consequence of impulse buying is realizing that you don’t want the item anymore when you get home. Maybe that dress doesn’t look as good as you thought it would (because you were too lazy to try it on) or your new throw pillows throw off the entire vibe of your living room.
You don’t want the items anymore but now you don’t have time or it’s too much effort to make the trip back to your local Target to return them. But fear not! Target has made it easy by allowing your to send your items back by mail, whether you bought them in store or online! You just go online and print out a prepaid return label and Target will pay the fees.