The Target Time Vacuum


The Target Time Vacuum | Des Moines Moms Blog

Last week I went to Target. Since you’re a mom, I’m guessing you can guess what happened next.

A. I spent over $100.

B. I was there over an hour.

C. Both.

D. Both, except multiply those numbers by two!

I left at 1:05 p.m. with the goals of picking up some small gift items for our kids and finding clothing for our boys for an event. I returned at 4:40 having picked up said small gifts and clothes and – bonus! – a few things for me!

I returned from my shopping trip and my husband asked how it went. I sheepishly said, “What if I told you that the entire time I was gone, I was only at ONE store?” He replied, “I would say, ‘Wow.’”

I kind of thought “wow” myself. I mean, I’ve had my fair share of Target Time-Vacuum experiences, but three and a half hours?

Where exactly did the time go?

Turns out it was spent in the seasonal section and the Dollar Spot with significant stops in Girls’ Clothing, Boys’ Clothing, and Shoes. There was a swing through Jewelry, another 20 minutes killed in Electronics, and then back to Shoes. I browsed the clearance racks of women’s clothing and may have visited the dressing rooms twice. I stopped for conversations in the aisles with several friends, perused the toys and sporting goods, swooped through Home Décor, and was finally headed to the check-out when I remembered we needed dishwasher detergent! That led to some light grocery shopping and picking up some necessary toiletries. Then, I was on my way home… a mere three and a half hours later.

I didn’t grab a Starbucks, but I should have given the stamina it turns out I needed. It wasn’t the day for getting my eyes checked, my photos taken, or grabbing lunch at Food Avenue, but I somehow find comfort in knowing I could have.

Target has everything. I don’t have to run to the grocery store, the pharmacy, a coffee shop, a photographer, an optometrist, a café, a boutique, or a sporting goods store, wasting gas and an entire afternoon.

No, I can simply drive to Target – saving gas, although still wasting an afternoon. Target should really consider this as their new marketing slogan:

Waste an entire afternoon, but save gas.

You’re welcome, Target.

Of course, this gas-saving strategy is only what I told myself after I became aware of the actual length of my shopping adventure. Slightly embarrassed, I justified it by highlighting my friendliness toward the environment. Zombie Target aisle walker? No! I’m an Ozone Champion!

Just to bring home the point of the precious hours I’d lost in the sacred aisles of Target, while I was checking out, the Target clerk asked me, “Is it still pretty nasty out there?” Since I had no idea what he meant (it was sunny and warm when I entered the store), I smiled hesitantly and said, “Not too bad.” Turns out we’d had a major thunderstorm during my shopping experience and it was still raining as we spoke. An entire weather pattern made its way through the state and I’d missed it.

That’s what happens in the Target Time Vacuum.

Early afternoon becomes supper time. A quick errand becomes a study in human behavior. How many distractions can a shopper embrace before she reaches her limit? In my case, apparently all of them. Until last week I didn’t even know about my NEED for new patio furniture, a hair dryer, or matching storage bins for my basement. Clearly I do now and the siren is calling, my friends. If I had another three hours to spare, I’d be taking care of that deficiency, pronto!

I think we can all relate to the Target Time Vacuum. Sometimes it is the aloneness I seek. Errand running without kids. I don’t even care that it’s spent at a big box store. I’m on my own and it’s glorious!

Sometimes we just want to avoid the lunchtime, nap time, dinnertime, bath time, fill-in-the-blank routine at home. Our quick errand stretches and expands until – oops! – we missed that duty. We have successfully avoided sweeping Goldfish crackers off the floor for the 1000th time – hooray! –  but we came home with groceries and toilet paper so no one can accuse us of not doing our part!

Sometimes we innocently walk into Target with no hidden agenda, but darn it if they don’t trap us in there and make us spend our money. I’m convinced there’s something in the air, the music, or the bright lights subliminally turning off all awareness of time or semblance of self-control.

But, only for women. I have yet to meet a man who spent more than 15 minutes in that store. Their path is direct. They enter the doors, walk straight to the item they are looking for, pause for less than 30 seconds to compare prices or verify their purchase, walk to the front of the store, check out and exit.

I know. It’s possible. Target doesn’t actually have security at the doors forcing you to stay for an hour. Who knew?!?

Women, on the other hand, meander all over the store remembering items on their lists or events coming up. We see hand towels and remember we need hand soap which takes us past the travel toiletries section, and who can resist a mini lint roller? The travel items remind us that we need a new magazine for our upcoming weekend away, and while we’re walking there we stop to pick up a get-well card for a co-worker. That co-worker loves M&Ms so we decide to grab a bag, heading over to the grocery section, checking out the new handbags and sunglasses on the way. By the time we reach the grocery section, we’ve forgotten all about the M&Ms, but we have a new scarf, some hand lotion, and a picture frame for our effort.

The Target Time Vacuum | Des Moines Moms Blog

Oh, Target, why can’t I quit you. When I’m outside your hallowed halls, I see you for what you are. A retailer really good at convincing me to buy goods (I don’t really need) to meet needs (I don’t really have). But, within your walls I drink the Kool-aid. I’m under your spell, clueless of time and any measure of self-control. I’m a shopper lemming following your every whim, usually enjoying myself quite a bit, actually.

And saving the environment while I’m at it.


  1. […] If you’ve been in Target, you know what I’m talking about. Seriously—I discovered these and bought one pair one day and three more the next. Me, the lady who doesn’t love shorts. This new must-have style has an elastic waistband and a loose, flowy fit, and boasts the cutest detailing along the hem. Unlike tighter fitting styles, these don’t squeeze and crawl in all the wrong places. They’re dressy-casual and trendy while still being comfortable and flattering. […]


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