Little-Known Target Design Hacks That Will Feed Your Obsession

Maggie Griswold
Little-Known Target Design Hacks That Will Feed Your Obsession

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It’s happened to all of us: You innocently walk into a Target with a couple things on your list, then immediately get sucked into the wonders of the store, leaving with $200 worth of items you never knew you needed until you saw them. It feels like no matter which Target you step into, there is always something making the store feel homey and comforting—and believe it or not, there’s a reason for that. The way each Target store is designed is carefully planned and executed to perfectly fit the vibe, needs and taste of the area in which it’s located (especially when it comes to small-format Target stores). In other words, Target is optimized, design-wise, for the best shopping experience possible. It’s all starting to make sense, right?!

With 1,000 custom store remodels plus over 100 small-format openings underway, Target employs many different design elements to make each one irresistible. So, to get the inside scoop on why we’re all obsessed with Target, we talked to Joe Perdew, Target’s VP of Store Design. During an intimate sneak peek of Target’s Upper East Side store, which will officially open its doors on Sunday, Oct. 20, we learned that Target has a special formula that keeps shoppers happy. All Target stores (including the UES one) feature elements that are specifically designed for their location along with some that stay consistent from store to store. Ultimately, Perdew says, “When you think about what Target delivers at the end of the day, it’s about those products you need with those products you really want.”

Below, you’ll find the five different reasons you keep going back to Target over and over again—and just how effective store design can be.

Target Stores

Brian Ach/AP Images for Target.

1. Keep Clothing Close to the Mannequins

You know when you see your dream outfit on a store’s mannequin, but can’t find the clothes that are on said mannequin anywhere? Target tries to avoid that. The stores make sure to keep whatever outfits are on the mannequins close to the actual mannequins, so you never have to look far to find what you want. Plus, visual merchandisers at each store will change out a mannequin quickly if the items are running low.

Target Stores

Brian Ach/AP Images for Target.

2. Lighting Consistency Is Key

“The trick for Target [lighting] is always about making sure that it’s always warm and welcoming, but also hip and aspirational—cool,” says Perdew. The color temperature of each Target stays completely optimized and consistent, which makes the entire store look pre-filtered no matter where your eyes roam. For instance, if you’re walking around the new Upper East Side Target, the lighting is the exact same whether you’re on the first floor (with windows) or second floor (with no windows, as it used to be a parking garage). Basically, we’d love for Target designers to filter our Instagram photos for us.

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3. Home Decor to Fit the Needs of an Area

Target even works to create the perfect customized range of home decor for each location. In New York, most people can’t fit a huge couch in their apartment or paint a wall. So, in the new Upper East Side Target store, there are smaller design elements—pillows, lamps, etc.—to add pops of color and personality to a space.

Target Stores

Brian Ach/AP Images for Target.

4. Design Is Locally Relevant

Where a Target store is located drastically affects the way the store is designed. In the case of the Upper East Side Target, there are high ceilings with exposed pipes and brick walls. A large vault door appears above the escalators, a relic of a former FBI building. This design might feel chaotic and weird to someone in a completely different city, but to most New Yorkers, it feels right—and totally relevant to the area. “Each space, each locale is kind of different,” explains Perdew. For instance, Perdew converted an old-school bowling alley in Portland into a small-format store, maintaining much of the original charm.

Beyond aesthetics, Target stores across the country offer services that ameliorate geography-based headaches. Drive-Up, in which Target employees schlep your pre-purchased app orders straight to your car, is ideal for frigid days in cold climates, while same-day delivery services provide the instant gratification urban dwellers depend on.

Target Stores

Brian Ach/AP Images for Target.

5. White on Red Stands Out

When you think about Target, you probably picture their bullseye logo with the red and white hues. Target has adapted throughout the years to use this specific coloring to actually help customers. The stores feature red and white signage, as well as make all their customer service areas red and white. This builds up a psychological reflex in the customer to look toward the red and white whenever you need help in a Target store—which we think is beyond cool.

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