The new "Target" store recently opened in Victoria, simultaneously along with eight others scattered across British Columbia. Much excitement and anticipation preceded the "Grand Openings" as Target replaced a number of popular "Zeller" stores. Many Canadian department stores such as "Eaton's," "Woodward's" and even some of the "Hudson Bay" stores have disappeared in a cloud of poor economy, takeovers and/or merges. After all, it's common knowledge that foreign takeovers and invasions are now done with money and not with guns.
It seems that's what people want--another place to shop and browse with lots of choices. If not in Victoria, then it's a nice drive across the U.S. border to spend time shopping and browsing in their stores. And if Canadians are willing to do that, then why not bring their favourite department stores and trendy boutiques to them.
Target is the first wave of American department stores to land on Canadian soil. There has already been a flurry of smaller franchises such as "Pottery Barn" and "Abercrombie and Fitch," that helped test the market and found it fertile. Others, like England's "Marks and Spencer" and Sweden's "Ikea" came to Victoria, stayed for a while and left. Next comes the big guns--already being built--"Nordstrom" and "Marshalls."
I like to shop, although the word shop denotes an exchange of money for a piece of merchandise. My idea of shopping is mainly my version of ABC's--Admiring, Browsing and Comparing. New stores really know how to grab your attention and try for your wallet. It's not only the colourful displays and the skillful marketing strategy, but there seems to be an army of helpful people, willing to assist you in finding an elusive item or personally guiding you to that specific location. I can never find that type of service in my regular stores. I usually resort to nabbing someone to ask my question and typically getting the "Sorry, not my department" answer. I often wonder if Management ever work the floors to see how their employees and concept of "Customer Service" differ. Reality can be a tough lesson.
I like to meander and check out new stores. My strategy is to wait a few weeks after the grand openings and the flurry of curiosity seekers have died down. By then, a shopper like myself, gets a true idea of what the store is really like--under normal circumstances. And you know what? It truly is an education in human behaviour.
Despite the hype and fanfare of "Grand Openings," I still favour small clothing boutiques, individual family-owned businesses and the rapidly disappearing "Mom and Pop" convenience stores. There is something appealing and likeable about these small businesses that have yet to be merged or taken over by larger giants. It's the same with the neighbourhood restaurants and/or coffee houses. Their charm, friendly consistent service and always reliable menu would bring me back any time. The family businesses are rapidly disappearing because the next generation or the generation after, just aren't interested in carrying on. It's really sad, but inevitable for this to happen. After all, Life goes on and the Goliaths will win over David most times--at least, if one waits long enough in any big buck businesses, it usually holds true.