Some things change, some don’t

By Mir
September 18, 2010

I’m thinking it’s not much of a secret that I like to shop. But the thing is that I like to shop, but I don’t like to spend money. Those two things can go together, of course, but it takes a little more work.

One of the things I’ve done for years and years is to maintain a stash of gifts—assembled from various clearance finds—and then when it’s time to head to a birthday party or round up teacher gifts, I don’t have to run out and shop. This saves me from going to actual stores (because those places are filled with cranky people, plus they require getting dressed and leaving the house), plus it saves money because I’d rather buy stuff on sale whenever than buy stuff at full price because I need it RIGHT NOW.

[The best part about toys in the gift closet is that as the kids and their peers outgrow stuff, each year I do a November clean-out and go donate a bunch of stuff for the various holiday charities, and that’s all kinds of fun.]

Unfortunately, like SO MANY other things in my life, my children are ruining my careful planning. Typical.

The thing is, the last time I checked, Chickadee was still a CHILD. But she begs to differ. She and her friends do not give each other toys anymore, MOTHER. They give each other books (yay!), make-up (lalalala not listening), craft supplies (all the better for scattering all over the house), and various objects that I do not pretend to understand (for her last birthday, Chickie’s party invitation specified no gifts, but a friend brought her a wooden chipmunk that she prizes as if the damn thing was made of chocolate). I… do not really understand what’s acceptable amongst her friends anymore, nor do any of them have parties with any sort of regularity, and both of these make it very hard to buy ahead.

So. There’s a birthday party next week. Chickadee wanted to go to Target today to look for a gift.

The good news is that I’m finally feeling a little bit better. So an outing sounded fine, actually.

The bad news is that I hadn’t been to Target in a long time. I forgot that my brain ceases to function reasonably in Target. And the WORSE news is that when Monkey asked me if he could “maybe buy something” with his allowance I said “Sure!”

Apparently I am feeling better but my brain has been turned to mush.

Once we started walking up and down the aisles, the endcaps of clearance items started calling my name. Chickadee wanted to go look at nail polish, Monkey wanted to go look at Bakugan, and I was remembering that OH! Target has cheap towels! And cute dishes! And all sorts of other things!

Target endcaps are my kryptonite, man. It’s not my fault.

We got out of there in about an hour, which really, wasn’t too bad. And we NEEDED those dive sticks, you know (75% off). Plus those wall decals were totally sweet (80% off). And, um, I’d been meaning to pick up a new tube of mascara.

Plus we got to do some math, too, which is part of any good Target trip. The kids had to calculate their expenditures (Monkey had to find his best Bakugan deal; Chickadee had to figure out how many nail polishes I was willing to buy, and how much extra she wanted to buy with her own money to add to the gift), including tax, which totally justified the extra stuff I bought because it was a LEARNING EXPERIENCE.

So I may not know what to stock in the gift closet, anymore, but apparently I have not lost my knack for being utterly unable to get out of Target with “just one thing.”


  1. Pam

    Ahhh, Target! SUCH a good thing we don’t have Target here in New Zealand – but when I go to Australia I’m in there like nobody’s business, nipping round the aisles and mourning the 23kg weight limit on my suitcase. But it’s a good thing for my bank account.

  2. Heather

    I don’t think anyone at all is capable of that ;) I’m just as bad at WalMart or Costco.

  3. Diane

    I went to Target yesterday for JUST ONE THING – tissue, because I have a lousy cold. The cold is affecting my brain as well, so an hour and fifty-odd dollars later…the bright side is that over half of that was for true necessities (paper products) for which I received two, five dollar gift cards at checkout … which I forgot to promptly use on yesterday’s purchase. I’ll be forced to go again to spend the gift cards, hopefully when my resistance is higher.

  4. meghann

    Target is like kryptonite for even the most frugal shoppers. I don’t think I’ve ever made it out of there for less than 50 bucks.

  5. Casdok

    Lol! And at least you wont have to go back for a while!

  6. karen

    NOBODY leaves Target with just one thing… just look for a few minutes at everyone LEAVING… no one… has They pipe something through the duct systems I think.

    I do love that place though. Did you check out the halloween decorations??? Ohmagaah.

    I think last visit to Target, I left with 97 things. Atleast.

  7. navhelowife

    After spending 3 years overseas, one of the hardest things was to return to Target and WM. There are stores *similar* to those where we were, and they are lots of fun, but for some reason I found Target and WM so OVERWHELMING at first. I think it was the sheer volume of *stuff* they sell, and I’m with you about those darn endcaps!

  8. carolyn

    Oh Target!! I love Target, and both of my teenagers (one is a boy) love target. My daughter likes to tell people that we never get out of Target for less than $100. Sadly, she is not very wrong.

  9. Barbara

    I pink puffy sparkly musical heart Tar-jhay. I got out of there with one thing (for less than $20) exactly once in my life, about a year and a half ago. I had to save the receipt and show it to people to get them to believe my story, it was kinda like I told them I had a unicorn in my backyard. I know I can do it, so I never have to do it again, right?

  10. suzie

    $80. That is what “one quick thing” turns into when I go to Target. I can never get out of there for less than $80. This is has been the case for years (apparently, no adjustments for inflation), and my husband did not understand why I was laughing when we went to “pick up bug spray” for camp, and my total was $80.83. He thought I was laughing at him, or something. But even when I was just stopping to “pick up a pack of diapers” (i.e., 12-14 years ago … $80.

    And I’m with you on the older girls’ birthday presents. It’s tough. I miss the toy store runs. So easy.

  11. Mary Fran

    I call Target the $100 store…

  12. Nelson's Mama

    And here I thought it was me they were thinking of when they designed those endcaps!

    When my girls got older, I started making them pick out cute pj’s for their friends; they always thought the pj’s were an “uncool” gift, but every Mom LOVED them and I always saw the pj’s come to our house in sleepover bags.

    All of the other Moms were like me and were tired of getting all of the glitter, make-up and junk and truly appreciated something useful.

  13. StephLove

    I can’t get out of Whole Foods with just one thing. I almost managed it once last summer when we were out of milk and there was a WF right near my son’s day camp. My daughter and I made it all the way to the checkout with just the milk, resisting many temptations including a mocha-flavored confection in a coffee cup MADE OF CHOCOLATE. Then we passed the smoothie counter and feeling so virtuous about not having bought that cunning little coffee cup candy, I thought, well, smoothies are healthy, sort of, and well, you can guess what happened next.

  14. Grace

    Like the previous commentors, Target is always an $80 proposition for me. The weird thing about that is I remember when going to Target meant the “$40 rule.” Inflation, man.

  15. elz

    Target completes me. I can be good and ONLY get what I came for. But, wandering the aisles is so much more fun. About the only paid blogging gig I long for is to blog for Target. I would rock that. If Target is wrong, I don’t want to be right!

  16. BKC

    Oh dear. Target. I’m picking through outgrown baby clothes (sob!!) for resale, and every. single. thing. is. from. Target. Between that and the cute slouchy shoulder bags that whisper my name, I only go to Target with cash. Too much potential for damage with the debit card.

    When I was Chickadee’s age, my mom made me give board games. Games that were rather obscure **mumblecough** years ago. Herd Your Horses, anyone? Royal Masquerade? Back then I could have died when the birthday girl was opening my gift, but when said birthday girl would be lug it to my house to play when I threw a sleepover, my mom was triumphant.

  17. Em

    No, you can’t blame yourself. They make Target that way with their quality products at reasonable prices. There is no defense against that. You did the best you could.

  18. pam

    I think they pipe some kind of subliminal scent or something into Target stores. It makes you Want.It All…….

  19. Lori N

    One of my friends figured out the rule of thumb for Target — you end up spending $1 for every minute you’re there. Even knowing this, I can’t get out of there for less than $50 — and I try, I really, really try!

  20. Capability

    I have the same problem with those endcaps at Target…it is all that bargain-y goodness that threatens to up-end my cart…Good for you for the one hour limit (I once had a friend call me just as I walked in to Target and she talked me out “Step away from the capris…they are not that cute.” It worked and I was out of there is under 10 minutes and spent about $20 – my all-time low!

  21. Headless Mom

    When my daughter was that age she started making jars for her friends…she would put their favorite candy in a mason jar, or other small things, decorate the outside with paint pens, and then get a small piece of fabric to go on the lid.

  22. Jen

    I went to Costco today. A Sunday. Immediately preceding a Broncos game. With two children in tow. That I survived to tell the tale TOTALLY justifies the chocolate pomegranate candy I bought. Totally.

  23. Lucinda

    I so feel you! We went to Target yesterday for cleaning supplies and ended up with gifts for 4 of my nephews, a Halloween costume prop, a toy bought with birthday money by my daughter and toiletries for both the kids. I don’t plan to go back for at least 6 months. Except maybe for the trip next week to buy the bicycle I couldn’t fit in the back of my car. lol

  24. Kristin

    You do know that starting in October ALL purchases made with a Target card are automatically 5% off. I’m sure that will help.

    Also my Target just remodeled and has GREAT sales right now ie: advertised price on Pepsi 3 for $11 in store price 3 for $8.25!!!!

  25. Carrie

    There’s a facebook page called, ” I went to Target to buy shampoo, and I spent $150.”

    It’s also the story of my shopping life!

  26. Mama Bear

    When Wal-Mart is your only choice in your hometown, and you get to a town with a Target… Let’s just say that the people complaining about getting out of Target for not less than 80 bucks are very, very lucky. There are 5 of us, and not only do we all lurrrvvve Target, we also love the Archer Farms products! So it’s like a double whammy really.

  27. KGP

    As several others have posted, I NEVER get out of Target without spending $100. Today my damage was close to $200.

  28. Kim in Minnesota

    Just one thing? Must be kidding… we just call Tar-jay “The Hundred Dollar Store.”

  29. Jenn

    Target is so frustrating for me now. The closest one is over an hour away. And that’s far enough for me to forget what I need and to forget what I have and feel completely unsure about buying something because it might be wrong and I don’t really want to have to drive an hour to return those wrong things or worse yet, keep them because I don’t want to make the drive.

  30. Julie (Etsy Stalkers)

    those damn dollar spot purchases add up. i need to move far, far away from one. and then disconnect my internet so i don’t shop online. riggghhhht.

  31. Lady M

    Love Target. And I’m wondering whether I should get a Target card, because they’ll make a donation to your kid’s school based on your purchases and . . . uh, yeah, that’s all I need. One more excuse to go there.

  32. J from Ireland

    Oh you Americans have all the brilliant shops!! While in America I visited Target…oh my I was in my glory. Over here we have Tesco and I go there to buy 1 thing but come out with 25 things because it is so cheap!! As my kids get older I am putting cash into birthday cards, this is much appreciated by all.

  33. Julie

    My friend Sandra and I cannot step into Target and not spend less than $100. Glad we are not alone.

  34. k.mayer

    The only thing worse (better?) than Target . . . is Costco!!!! Four kids, one dog, and a husb who whines he “needs a flat screen tv…. all the other dads have one…!”
    But if you time Costco right, you can feed the family a delicious lunch on the freebies!

  35. Kelly

    Costco & Target are my nemesis! Can’t leave under $100 at either. If I do, big win.

  36. Peggy Fry

    I am absolutely ADDICTED to the Dollar Spot stuff at Tar-jay….especially cute, cheap reading glasses for $1…..after years of spending hundred of bucks on a single pair, it delights my cheap… uh… THRIFTY soul to only spend a dollar. And they’re cute! and in colors! and pretty! and shiny….. oh look, GLITTER!!!!

    cursed, foiled again.

  37. Brigitte

    Wow. Either my local Target is defective, or I was born without the gene. When I get there (after a 40 minute drive), the endcaps are always empty. They did have good nursing tank tops, back when I needed those, though.

  38. Jean

    Oh Target….I limit myself to once a quarter. Impossible to leave with just the items on your list.

  39. Katie in MA

    Target is so hit or miss for me. Either I buy cartloads of clearance items that I can’t believe I’ve had the fortune to find…or I *have* to buy something like a new cordless and wonder who the heck they think they are for charging me such an outlandish price.

  40. Nancy R

    I’ve found cute photo frames to be a good girly-gift…last b-day was a ‘friend’ autograph frame. Also, mis-matched sock sets.

Things I Might Once Have Said


Quick Retail Therapy

Pin It on Pinterest