Target Shopping in Toronto

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Target has not arrived in Montréal — or Québec — just yet but during a quick trip to Toronto last month, I dropped by the Target location at Cloverdale Mall in west Toronto (Etobicoke).

My reasons for dropping in? Curiosity, to grab a stick of deodorant left at home, and to check out their makeup aisle. Target in the U.S. carries makeup lines like E.L.F. Cosmetics (eyes lips face), Sonia Kashuk, and Pixi, brands that you cannot get at any Canadian retailer as far as I know, though E.L.F. was carried by Zellers before all but three stores were purchased by Target to convert into Target Canada. I also wanted to see how the retailer was doing during its first few months operating in Canada as I had heard of inventory issues where aisles were already out of stock, as well as complaints that the pricing was not as cheap as usual U.S. Target retail prices.

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I did a quick walk around the perimeter of the store to see what the aisles were like, and it was pretty much what you would expect from any department store or Target U.S. store: a housewares section; clothing and shoes for men, women, and children; a pharmacy; and even a Starbucks outlet within the target. This is usual business as Starbucks has partnered with Target U.S. for the past twelve years, and such a partnership makes sense. Target, or “tar-jay” (a tongue-in-cheek nickname that is like a francophone version of the store name, Targé), is definitely not a Wal-Mart. Target aims to be the hip discount retailer for customers who do not have to shop at Target; that is, the upper middle class who wants deals. So you can drop by Target and load up on cash savings of the various products you will purchase, but you can also get you $5 soy moccachino latte with half-syrup, no whip on your way in or out.

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However, just as other U.S. retailers before them, Target’s prices do not match those of their U.S. outlets. And of course, Canadian customers have complained but this is the reality of operating a business in Canada. Canadian costs are definitely higher than doing business in the U.S. due to factors such as increased taxation, economies of scope, population density, and differing labour and corporation laws. So as much as I would love American pricing, I do not have too much to complain in this department.

Additionally, there was an interesting article in The Globe and Mail in April comparing the basket prices between Target Canada and Wal-Mart Canada. The article came to conclusion that Target’s prices are 1-per-cent higher than Wal-Mart’s on a basket of the same household and beauty products, but eight-per-cent higher when one item was dropped. Conclusion: Target is more generally slightly more expensive than Wal-Mart, but if you are not a fan of Wal-Mart like me, that price difference may mean little to you.

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Sonia Kashuk Dense Powder Brush/Blush Brush

As earlier explained, I was mainly interested in visiting their beauty aisles, and I wanted to specifically check of E.L.F. Cosmetics and Sonia Kashuk products. I meandered my way through the store to the beauty section and was surprised (or should I have not been surprised?) that many of the product sections were low on inventory. This was not only for Target-exclusive brands such as Sonia Kashuk and Pixi, but brands such as L’Oréal and Cover Girl, which are available at mass retailers. Also, there was no E.L.F. Cosmetics, and when I later did some Googling on E.L.F. Cosmetics presence in Canada, their Twitter feed indicated that they are “working on it” on trying to find a Canadian retailer since the demise of Zellers. (However, I did get my E.L.F. Cosmetics fill in another way — more of that in a later post!)

I ended up purchasing my deodorant, the reason I originally came to Target, as well as test out a Sonia Kashuk brush, which I receive a lot of accolades on the Internet. I needed a blush brush, and ended up buying their Sonia Kashuk Tools Dense Powder Brush/Blush Brush, which is similar to Sephora’s Classic Mineral Powder Blush #45, a favourite of mine. However, the Sonia Kashuk brush was slightly less dense and with a larger brush head, but was a steal at $17.19 CDN versus $29.99 CDN for the Sephora brush.

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Sephora Classic Mineral Powder Brush #45 ($29.99 CDN), left, versus Sonia Kashuk Brush ($17.19 CDN), right

I love my Sephora Classic Mineral Powder Brush for using with Bare Minerals (loose powder) foundation, and I would not quite say the Sonia Kashuk brush is a definite dupe, but they are similar in many ways. However, I would use the Sonia Kashuk brush for a more sheer effect as the brush head is bigger with less compact bristles. I ended up using the Sonia Kashuk brush mainly for blending powder blush and contour powder as the density of the bristles are great for avoiding that 80’s striped cheeks effect.

And just for price comparison, my Nivea deodorant was $3.04 CDN, and I also purchased a Target gift card for an upcoming birthday present for $50. Was my trip to Target successful? Well, I wish they had more inventory in stock as I would have at least considered more Sonia Kashuk brushes. And I also would have been interested in seeing an array E.L.F. Cosmetics in person instead of online, though Winner’s sometimes has a random assortment of E.L.F. Cosmetics in their beauty aisles as well. And I think the next time I have a more leisurely spending occasion, I would be interested in looking at their apparel and shoes section in more detail. However, despite my penchant for Starbucks cafés, shopping at Target does require a budget and restraint. And as American companies often take a while to meander over to the province of Québec (twelve stores in the province will open by year end), I am hoping by then the company will be running a tighter ship and solved their inventory issues when these stores open in the fall.

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