15 Surprising Facts About Target

Scott Olson/Getty Images
Scott Olson/Getty Images

With roughly 1800 stores across the country, Target has leveraged its reputation as a slightly more upscale Walmart to become the second-largest retailer in North America. The company promises “clean, spacious” shopping areas and relies on a familiar red coloring scheme to make it stand out from a surplus of discount stores. Read up on Target's ability to predict pregnancies, the lunacy of refrigerating Doritos, and the logic behind those concrete red balls.

1. Target started with a church fire.

At the turn of the century, real estate developer George Dayton pulled opportunity out of still-simmering embers when he bought a stretch of property in Minneapolis, Minnesota that had previously been home to the Westminster Presbyterian Church. When the church burned down in 1895, Dayton was able to use the grounds to build a six-story commercial building. Feeling it needed a primary store, Dayton convinced Goodfellows Dry Goods to relocate there. That burgeoning retail business led the family to start the Target discount franchise in 1961.

2. "Tarjay" was a thing all the way back in the 1960s.

Pronouncing Target as though it were a French boutique is older than you think. Douglas Dayton, who inherited the Dayton business along with his brothers, recalled that people were making that joke from the time the first Minneapolis location opened in 1962.

3. Shoppers were evacuated from one Target store due to an X-rated emergency.

A San Luis Obispo store had to clear itself of customers and staff in July 2015 after a hooligan managed to hijack their public announcement system and pipe pornographic noises over the speakers. The SLO Tribune reported that management was able to turn off the soundtrack following the evacuation. The pranksters struck a second time at a San Jose location that October during Mommy and Me Day.

4. Those big red balls outside Target stores are for your safety.

Justin Sullivan, Getty Images

Plopped unceremoniously in front of many Target locations are giant concrete balls called bollards. While they do complement the store’s red aesthetic, they also serve a functional purpose: to keep cars from driving into the door.

Inspired by the bollards, one married couple took to Instagram and Facebook to post photos of themselves interacting with them for 365 days straight. (Don't have too much fun with them, though, When the company put a decorative beach-ball colored fabric over the balls in 2007, people complained that children might kick them and break their feet.)

5. Target knows if you're pregnant (Even if your family doesn't).

A company employee tipped off The New York Times Magazine in 2012 that data analytics obtained from shopping could be sorted to assess whether a shopper is pregnant. Using a record of transactions, things endemic to second-trimester shopping (unscented lotions, supplements like calcium and zinc) were identified. The company could even make a reasonable estimate of when a customer was due and send them coupons tailored for their needs. Creepy? Yes, especially when the father of a teenager called a Minneapolis store to complain his daughter was getting baby-related coupons. Turns out he didn’t know she was pregnant.

6. Target will let customers breastfeed anywhere in the store.

If you’re nipple-averse, you might want to reconsider a Target trip. In 2015, the company announced a policy that allows for mothers to fuel their babies anywhere they please on the premises. Housewares, electronics, sporting goods, stationery—no department is exempt. The policy was publicized after one mother was erroneously told to cover up in Texas and stores experienced organized “nurse-ins” in protest.

7. Target likes to refrigerate Doritos.

In 2014, people took to the Internet to voice their confusion over Target stores that were keeping bags of Doritos in their coolers. Was there some new, as-yet-undiscovered way to appreciate the tasty tortilla chip? Had Doritos been perishable all this time? The truth was somewhat less sensational, albeit substantially more disgusting. Turns out they were trying to promote a recipe for “walking tacos” that called for refrigerated items like shredded cheese, ground beef and sour cream to get mixed inside a bag of Doritos.

8. Target once opened 11 stores in one city in one day.

Scott Olson, Getty Images

In a bold move not even Starbucks has attempted, Target opened 11 stores in Chicago on the same day in March of 1993. The aggressive launch may have been intended to declare retail war on competitors Walmart and Kmart: Chicago was the first time all three were going up against one another in a major market.

9. Target pharmacies are owned by CVS.

Target was once responsible for doling out their own prescriptions, but no more. In June 2015, the company announced that CVS Pharmacy would be buying their medication dispensaries for close to $2 billion and the locations would be re-branded as CVS fixtures. Why sell? The company needed some cash after their Canadian expansion plans fell flat.

10. Target helped repair the Washington Monument.

In 1997, the company put up $1 million and pledged additional assistance to the National Park Service to repair a dilapidated Washington Monument. While companies often make expensive gestures, Target went one better and helped enlist Michael Graves to help brainstorm ideas to reinforce the structure during the restoration work. Graves later become the company’s first “name” designer to debut a line of branded products.

11. "Alex from Target" got death threats.

Back in November 2014, a photo of Alex Lee—a handsome, 16-year-old Frisco, Texas Target employee—went viral, and dreamy Alex soon became an Internet meme of considerable proportions. He went from 100 Twitter followers to 100,000 almost overnight and modeling offers soon followed. But not everyone was taken with his celebrity. Alex told The New York Times he got some threats of violence and saw his family’s social security numbers posted online. Alex eventually left Target to pursue other ventures, like touring with other viral personalities.

12. Target's offering of "manatee gray" as a plus-sized color was a mistake.

A Target.com shopper was taken aback when she spotted a size selection option for a Mossimo kimono dress in 2013. All of the sizes were labeled “dark heather gray” except for the plus-sized option that was dubbed “manatee gray.” Target explained that it was an actual color found across a variety of lines and that relegating it to just one size in the dress was in error.

13. Some Target stores are downsizing.

The retailer's newest strategy is not to open airplane hanger-sized stores but to take advantage of areas where real estate is at a premium to open smaller-scale locations. At 17,000 square feet, they're just 15 percent of the size of a typical Target. The sites cater to a "grab and go" customer base near universities that may rely on public transportation and only needs to stock up on a handful of items. The company has opened about 100 of these stores around the country and plans to add 30 more per year.

14. Target reinvented the shopping cart.

Justin Sullivan, Getty Images

While some stores are content to let metal shopping carts age less than gracefully, Target decided that their carts were in need of a makeover. In 2006, the company enlisted Design Continuum to reverse-engineer a cart so it was easier and more comfortable to maneuver. The store's plastic carts, which are 15 to 20 pounds lighter than a conventional steel cart, are less likely to damage shelves—or the calves of shoppers in front of you.

15. The Target dog flies first class.

Introduced in 1999, lovable store mascot Bullseye has been a constant in Target’s ad campaigns. Naturally, the bull terrier travels in accommodations worthy of her position. She’s been spotted in first class, and a rider specifies how long she’s able to work during personal appearances.

Oh, and in case you're wondering, the bullseye dye on her face is vegetable-based.

The New Apple Watch SE Is Now Available on Amazon

Apple/Amazon
Apple/Amazon

Apple products are notorious for their high price tags. From AirPods to iPads to MacBooks, it can be difficult to find the perfect piece of tech on sale when you are ready to buy. Luckily, for those who have had their eye on a new Apple Watch, the Apple Watch SE is designed with all the features users want but at a lower starting price of $279— and they're available on Amazon right now.

The SE exists as a more affordable option when compared to Apple's new Series 6 line of watches. This less expensive version has many of the same functions of its pricier brethren, except for certain features like the blood oxygen sensor and electrical heart sensor. To make up for the truncated bells and whistles, the SE comes in at least $120 cheaper than the Series 6, which starts at $400 and goes up to $800. The SE comes with technical improvements on previous models as well, such as the fall detection, a faster processor, a larger screen, water resistance, and more.

Now available in 40mm ($279) and 44mm ($309), both SE models offer a variety of colors to choose from, such as sliver, space gray, and pink. If you want cellular connection, you’ll have to pay a bit more for the 40mm ($329) and the 44mm ($359).

For more, head to Amazon to see the full list of offerings from Apple.

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10 Awesome Things Bill Murray Has Done

What unpredictable but awesome thing will Bill Murray do next?
What unpredictable but awesome thing will Bill Murray do next?
Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images for RFF

Bill Murray—who was born on September 21, 1950—is known for popping up and doing something awesome every once in a while. Here are a few of our favorites.

1. Karaoked With Total Strangers

When a group of karaokers saw Murray enter NYC's Karaoke One 7 one night in January 2011, one of them worked up the courage to invite the movie star into their private karaoke room. Fifteen minutes later, Murray knocked on their door. "He was super nice and they all fit right in," one of the karaoke crew, Mike, told The Chive. "He bought us all a round of some weird green drink and wouldn't tell us what it was. ... The high point was when Bill and I sang a duet of an Elvis song called, 'Marie's the Name.'" Murray and his friends stuck around for the next four hours.

2. Walked Down a Hallway in Slow Motion

Why ask for Bill Murray's autograph when you can ask him to stroll down a hallway with you in slow motion? David Walton Smith told Reelz that he was making a commercial for a school in South Carolina that one of Murray's children attends; Murray was appearing in the spot. Smith didn't want to give Murray a bunch of things to autograph at the end of the shoot, and instead proposed asking the actor to walk with him and his friends down the hallway (they slowed it to slow motion in post). Murray, of course, obliged.

3. Got Invited to a Party, Did the Host's Dishes

Even when he's crashing parties, Bill Murray is polite. During a 2006 trip to St. Andrews, Scotland, for a celebrity golf tournament, Murray accompanied 22-year-old anthropology student Lykke Stavnef—whom he and his friends had met in a bar—to a house party. "Nobody could believe it when I arrived at the party with Bill Murray," she told The Telegraph. Murray then washed all the dishes in the students' sink. "It was really funny because he was pretty old compared with all the other people there, but he was so relaxed and it was really amusing when he started to wash up," Stavnef said.

4. Looked Great in a Christmas Card

“How and why I got this from Bill Murray, I have no idea!” wrestler Rowdy Roddy Piper once tweeted. (The Frisky also published this card in 2012.)

5. Used an ice Luge at his Christmas Party

It should come as no surprise that, in addition to looking great on holiday cards, the actor throws epic Christmas parties, which he told Esquire include an ice luge for booze:

"It's a big magilla to get an ice luge, but if you do, you can pour vodka into it and it chills it on the way down. It looks like an Olympic ski jump. It's more for visual effect. You can put your head underneath it, like you're guzzling gasoline, but we just fill shot glasses. Hundreds of little shot glasses. So, we drank this stuff, and it took the party to a completely other level. The party lasted much longer. No one left. The year before, people would leave at, like, two or three in the morning. With the vodka luge, they didn't leave until five. The last two years I've had this luge. That's how I like to drink. Out of a large ice structure."

Murray Christmas, indeed.

6. Played Kickball with Random People

Kickballers enjoying a game on Roosevelt Island in October 2012 when Murray "popped out of nowhere," team member Chris DiLella told Entertainment Weekly. "He was bouncing the ball… ran over to second base. Played for a bit… Gave us all high-fives and let us pose with him in the picture."

7. Bartended at SXSW

During a visit to Austin's Shangri-La during SXSW 2010, Murray hopped behind the bar to serve drinks (apparently, even if a patron asked for whiskey, he'd give them tequila). Someone caught it on video, which you can see above.

8. Gave an Excellent Speech at a Bachelor Party

In 2014, Murray crashed a bachelor party in Charleston, South Carolina, and gave an excellent, impromptu speech:

"You know how they say funerals aren't for the dead but for the living? Bachelor parties are not for the groom, they are for [the other guys]. So, I'm going to give you all advice, because it's too late for this one. If you have someone you think is the one, don't just sort of think in your ordinary mind, think 'Okay, let's make a date, let's plan this and make a party and get married.' Take that person and travel around the world. Buy a plane ticket for the two of you to travel all around the world and go to places that are hard to go to and hard to get out of. If when you come back to JFK [airport], when you land in JFK and you are still in love with that person, get married at the airport!"

Wise words.

9. Crashed a Couple's Engagement Photoshoot

Not long after he crashed that bachelor party, Murray happened upon Ashley Donald and Erik Rogers taking engagement photos in downtown Charlestown and decided to get in on the action. "When I set up Ashley and Erik, I saw this look of surprise on their faces as they looked over my shoulder. I asked them to look at the camera, but they just looked stunned and with his eyes, Erik motioned that I better look behind me," Raheel Gauba of Fia Forever Photography told the Huffington Post. "As I turned around to potentially ask the person distracting them to give us a moment, I see Bill Murray with his shirt up, belly out and patting it—his attempt to make the couple laugh. I joined the couple in the shock and surprise of the moment. At that point, I invited him to join the couple for a quick shot and he did. So genuine and nice of him to make the couple's day!"

10. Read Poetry to Construction Workers

When New York City's Poets House was being built in 2009, Murray showed up to read poetry to the construction workers. He began with Billy Collins's "Another Reason I Don’t Keep a Gun in the House," joking afterwards, "They get worse, OK, so if you want to lie down or get sick, take a sick day, do it now." He followed it with a poem for "the shorter attention span crowd," Lorine Niedecker’s "Poets Work" and finished with Emily Dickinson's "I Dwell in Possibility." Murray could not, unfortunately, get any of the workers to volunteer to read their own poetry.