nesting * geeking * critiquing

Posts tagged “shopping

Gendered Toys and the Target Tantrum

I’m probably going to regret posting this. Even so, here it is: I don’t understand the current hoopla surrounding Target stores.

Target recently announced that they’re going to stop gender-labeling certain departments of their stores—specifically Toys, Home and Entertainment. Instead of specifying which toys or bedding options are aimed at girls or boys, they’ll live in generic toy and bedding sections. Despite Target’s assurance that they’re not changing clothing departments, there is alarm and panic in some circles.

Why does it matter what I think? Well, for starters, this is something to which I’ve given a lot of thought over the years, not just as a knee-jerk reaction to the corporate announcement. Moreover, I’m seemingly in the minority on this when it comes to my demographic: the aforementioned “some circles.” I’m an unapologetic evangelical Christian and a conservative. I may lean a bit more towards the moderate end of the spectrum in some regards but I still identify as part of the political right. Assuming Trump isn’t the nominee—and there’s not a better 3rd-party candidate—I’ll likely default to voting Republican in the next presidential election.

While I’m sure there are other arguments to justify the Target outrage, these are the two I’ve heard most vehemently:
1. Franklin Graham (who I largely respect), among others, alleges that Target’s decision discredits God’s creation of two distinct genders, male and female.
2. Target’s move is said to be a slippery slope towards making everything (including clothing) gender-neutral, empowering an increasingly liberal world.

To the first, I genuinely fail to understand the direct correlation. Yes, I believe that God did create male and female for one another physically and emotionally. Beyond just the complementing anatomy, I believe He endowed each sex with certain qualities and characteristics. However, the fundamentals of said qualities and characteristics are obviously not distributed identically from person to person, regardless of their sex. It is those subtleties and differences that make each of us the “fearfully and wonderfully made” individuals who were knit together in our mothers’ wombs. [Or perhaps you believe that our lives are dictated by genetic coincidence, and that’s your prerogative.]

Which brings me to the decades I’ve had to consider this whole thing. I’m a girl, and I’ve got the plumbing, hormones and 32 years of living it to back me up. But I’m not exactly a girly-girl, and I never have been. I played with Barbie dolls, tinkered with fashion and swooned over boy bands, yet from my very earliest memories I know that I loved Superman, Ghosbusters and Star Wars. Those weren’t exactly marketed for girls in the ’80s…nor are they today.

There are girls who enjoy superheroes and trains and dinosaurs. For that matter, there are boys who like to play with stuffed animals and dolls rather than action figures and toy weapons. That doesn’t mean they will grow up to be transgendered or unable to fill traditional societal roles. And regardless of what they grow up to be, we as Christians are called to love. Period. You don’t have to agree with his or her lifestyle, but you must love him or her as a fellow human being created in God’s own image. I digress.

As an adult, it’s easy to justify buying toys or sheets from whichever store section you please. As a child, though, it can feel like running the gauntlet just to get a glimpse of your favorite characters on store shelves. No matter how much parents embrace and encourage a child’s enthusiasm, it can feel like you’ve crossed some invisible line that makes you inherently weird because you’re a little girl in the boys’ section (or vice versa). Even if you’re too young to read, you can see the signage that makes it impossibly clear that you’re out of your proverbial lane.

Now I’m not advocating we petition Star Wars to incorporate pink into their packaging (please, don’t use pink!) or demand that Barbie streamline to androgyny. They don’t even have to live side by side on the shelves—that wouldn’t make much sense from a merchandising standpoint anyway. But why as an overarching categorization do we have to label them ‘Boy Toys’ and ‘Girl Toys’?

There are plenty of stores that don’t differentiate, Kohl’s among them. They have a toy section. Plain and simple, TOYS. Know what else they have? Housewares and bedding that aren’t blatantly separated based on which sex “should” like the designs. I’ve not heard any complaints about/threats to boycott Kohl’s nor TJ Maxx/Marshalls, which merchandises in the same way. So why the outrage over Target; is the problem that they were overt in informing us about the changes? We petition for transparency then protest when we get it.

To the second point, it’s true that small moves and counter-moves can eventually culminate in big shifts. And maybe the end-game for places like Target is to ultimately shift culture in favor of more European, post-Christian norms and mores. I’m not one of their executives, but this feels like a somewhat paltry move if that’s the goal. More likely, I suspect they just see dollar signs and ebb with the tide of money.

I do think Christians people in general need to be cognizant of what’s going on with society. And, by all means, talk with your wallet and support the companies that you feel best represent your values.

For me personally, I see a lot of the other things happening in our world today that cause more distress than signage in a toy section or home goods. I sincerely don’t understand how this is the best battle to wage…let alone the right hill to die on.


Speed Dating

There’s really only one question I need to ask to find out how compatible I am with someone…

Wal-Mart or Target?speed-dating

I’ll admit, Wal-Mart’s not without its virtues: you can find just about anything there, including things you can’t find anywhere else. They even sell actual goldfish, not just the crackers! Just don’t get too attached because they’ll likely die within hours, days or weeks. But generally speaking, my social aversion steers me away from Wal-Mart, particularly if I have a choice.

For me, going into Wal-Mart at a peak time (like, say, a Saturday afternoon) is about as pleasant as causing a ruckus near a beehive without wearing any sort of protective suit. My blood pressure elevates, I break into a sweat and I really just want to run away. And also cry. And maybe shove people on my way out the door and yell at them to stop wearing pajama pants in public.

Target, on the other hand, feels somewhat inviting. Not calming exactly, but more my speed. Though the overall footprint is more intimate, there’s no attempting to squeeze past the ravenous crowds that swarm the discount dvd bins. If you’ve visited the ‘Mart on a weekend night (or, heaven forbid, Black Friday) and stumbled upon the electronics section, you know that it’s frighteningly reminiscent of the final scene in The Walking Dead pilot episode.

Selections frequently change at Target, so I enjoy browsing the collections. And the clearance! Markdowns are plentiful, which tempts me to take my time and peruse every aisle and endcap. Plus, prices are competitive—contrary to popular belief—and the toy selection blows Wal-Mart out of the water (in this neck of the woods, anyway).

Some Target stores even have ICEE machines at their little cafes. And those with mini-Starbucks have the scent of coffee gently wafting through the air, which I find far more appealing than the diaper-like odor of Subway’s meatball subs at Wal-Mart. (I blame Subway for that atrocity, not Wal-Mart.) Speaking of diaper-like odors, the bathrooms at Target are typically, though not always, nicer. It’s a good feeling to encounter generally clean facilities when you’ve got to answer nature’s call.

For the record, I’m neither attempting nor intending to be an elitist. Our travels have taught me that I’d be inclined to take Wal-Mart over Fred Meyer any day. There are even some shockingly nice Wal-Marts sprinkled across the country; we’ve discovered them in Washington and Colorado. There are even a few that I like here in the Show-Me State. Moreover, Wal-Mart exists in many places where Target doesn’t, and that accessibility matters.

But given the option, especially in my native environment, I’m Team Target.

They say opposites attract, and I’ll probably like you even if you do prefer Wal-Mart. Just don’t ask me to go shopping with you. And don’t wear pajama pants in public.



Attention, Good People of the Interwebs! I Needest Thine Assistance!

Verily, verily I plead unto you… Cast your eyes upon these: I lovingly refer to them as my “slacker shoes,” and a replacement is sought forthright.

Originally sold at Payless ShoeSource over a decade ago, I am distraught by the misfortune that has befallen them. Sadly, the seams have weakened, the faux-leather finish is crumbling (like pastries) and they’ve grown generally weary. Were it not for infrequent use over the first several years, I’m certain they would have departed far earlier.

Please comment below should you locate shoes of suitable likeness. Make haste, Internet; there is precious little time to waste!


Economics According to Me

I shop.  A lot.  It’s kind of my thing.  I find deals and save money (which isn’t really saving anything when the alternative is not spending it to begin with), so I justify.  I should probably join a recovery group.

Anyway, I’ve never been a huge fan of JC Penney.  They had some things I liked for a while there, but you can’t use discounts or coupons on Sephora stuff, so they’re pretty much dead to me now.  That and they started this stupid “fair and square” pricing campaign.  They claim lower everyday prices; I see no difference.  And the gimmick is no sales, just monthly “specials” and “best price” Fridays (see Sidebar).  Sounds an awful lot like a sale to me, except that it’s just really unappealing when they say it’s not a sale.

Sidebar: Isn’t it convenient how Black Friday rolls around on a Friday this year?  People like their crazy 3am openings and doorbusters and trampling fellow shoppers.  I am not a fan of Black Friday outside of the online realm.

I read an article from WGSN* (a job perk) that talks about JCP’s misstep.

In the three months to April 28 – the first quarter that this strategy was in place – JC Penney suffered a loss of $163m/75 cents per share, compared with a year-ago profit of $64m/28 cents … Total sales fell 20% to $3.15bn with comps diving 19%. Analysts had expected a 13.3% drop.

In short, this doesn’t surprise me in the least.  We’re still in a recessed economy, and people want to feel like they’re saving money.  It’s not hard to look at a tag or sign and know that prices are inflated to make the sale prices look better; it’s also not a turn-off.  Remember how I said I justify my purchases?  I’m not alone in this.  You want something, you know times are tough and probably shouldn’t buy it, you see that it’s some percentage off and surely that low price won’t last forever, so you justify the purchase, and (unless you’re putting yourself in dire credit danger) everybody wins.  You get whatever it is you wanted whilst feeling victorious, the economy gets a little boost.

An everyday price assumes you are buying something you need; a la the success of Wal-Mart.  They have their “rollback savings,” but people shop there regardless.  They have ample selection of things people need (“need” in this case is used very loosely), as well as tons of distracting “wants.”  It was a bold move but JC Penney just doesn’t have the luxury of luring you in with a need.  Sure, they sell underwear and socks, but you can get that cheaper elsewhere.  Like places that have sales and stuff.

Automobile manufacturers should take note.  They’re wringing their hands over the fact that people—particularly my peer Millennials—aren’t rushing out to buy a new car every couple of years.  During times like these, a purty new car isn’t a need.  Make some wily cost reductions…or give the impression thereof…and throw in some fancy financing options.  Waaaaayy more likely to recapture the audience.

That’s just my two cents’ worth.

*”WGSN is the leading online trend-analysis and research service providing creative and business intelligence for the apparel, style, design and retail industries.”