Special Report

The 10 Things I Would Never Buy At Target

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Target has grown into a mainstay of modern American consumerism. Its retail locations are everywhere, the stores are brightly lit and colorful, and much of the selections make you feel like you’re getting a steal when shopping. So much so, that it’s hard to walk out of Target without a dozen or more items that you did not even plan on buying.

No doubt, the store has good discounts for many products. However, there are just as many items that may seem like a great deal but are far more expensive than at other retailers. Be it wrapping paper, electronics, or anything with a name brand, some items are best to buy practically anywhere else. (Don’t buy these toxic products at 99 cents stores.)

To compile a list of 10 items you should never buy at Target, 24/7 Tempo drew on several similar stories from around the web. The items I chose for the article were the ones that had the most available information, especially the price disparities between Target and another store. Ultimately, I prioritized items that I have bought at Target that disappointed me, such as art supplies, compared to similar purchases at other stores.

1. Shoes

One thing I would never buy at Target is shoes. Sure, the store seems to have a great selection of shoes for men and women, but looks can be deceiving. All of the shoes available are Target brand shoes, which may look similar to your favorite name-brand footwear but are not the same thing.

Name-brand shoes like Adidas or Nike can be had for about the same price at other stores. Just recently, I got a pristine pair of Vans from Ross Dress for Less. They cost about $35, which is equivalent to what I would have paid at Target for knock-offs of the same item. Even Macys, known for more luxury goods, sells name-brand footwear for cheaper prices than lookalike Target shoes.

2. Meat

There’s more than one reason you shouldn’t buy meat at Target. First, the store does not have on-site butchers, which means all its meat is pre-packaged. Even at superstore locations, the selection is often very small, if not sub-par. While Target does have an “Animal Welfare” commitment, this does not speak to the quality of its meat.

The biggest reason to avoid buying meat at Target, however, is its source. If you read the label closely on any Target-bought meat, you’ll realize that it all comes from Thomas Foods. This is the same company that supplies meat to Safeway and Wal-Mart. As such, you’re better off sourcing your cuts of steak or pork from any grocer that also sells Thomas Foods-sourced items, but at a more affordable price.

3. Gift Cards

One thing you should never buy at Target is gift cards. Sure, there is that enticing display by the registers of every gift card known to man, but buyer beware. That’s because there are plenty of websites like Card Cash or Raise where you can buy gift cards and save between 5% and 20%of the card’s value.

What’s more, Target does not have the best reputation for the authenticity of its gift cards. Earlier this year, the company was hit with a class-action lawsuit over the alleged selling of fake Apple gift cards. Though the suit claims it’s the work of scammers swapping out real cards for fakes, it’s best to err on the side of caution when considering gift cards from Target. (These are 25 really weird lawsuits you would not believe were ever filed.)

4. Batteries

Batteries are a perfect example of an item people buy at Target without giving it a second thought. They are conveniently placed near the front of the store, and the prices seem reasonable. At least, compared to the giant bag of goods Target has already seduced you into buying.

It’s one of those products, however, that is almost always cheaper at other stores. Take, for example, Dollar Tree. At this store, you can buy a pack of AA batteries for nearly $4 less than Target. Sure, discount stores won’t sell name brands like Energizer, but the Alkaline brand batteries at Dollar Tree work just as well and come at a far cheaper price.

 5. Decorative Pillows

I’m sure you’ve noticed that aisle in every Target chock full of big, fluffy pillows. The range of styles, colors, and shapes alone are enough to make you want to shop. What’s less obvious, however, is the quality of these decorative pillows and how restrictive they are.

For one, most Target decorative pillows do not come with a zipper. This means that you can’t wash the pillow covers. Plus, Target uses cheaper stuffing in its pillows, so even if you wanted to swap them out for higher-quality filler, you can’t. It’s better to buy your decorative throw cushions at places like Marshalls, HomeGoods, or even Pottery Barn.

6. Diapers

Another item to never buy at Target is diapers. This might be the most enticing thing to get there since store-brand nappies are far less expensive than name-brands like Pampers or Huggies. The problem is, that Target diapers perform far worse than nearly every other brand on the market.

These store-brand diapers have poor absorption quality and are known for considerable leaking. Plus, they aren’t very eco-friendly. While they may be cheaper than other options, you’re better off buying another budget-friendly diaper like Kirkland’s. This Costco brand also comes at a discount but with far better quality and environmental friendliness.

7. Pet Supplies

Target seems to have a good selection of pet items. However, there are much better options out there for an equivalent price. While Target may carry all the name brands you know and love, often their stock is confined to two short aisles. This gives you far less choice than other stores, especially in terms of pet toys and litter boxes.

Nowadays, there are superior options for sourcing pet supplies, both in-store and online. Places like Sam’s Club or Costco have a much larger selection of pet supplies than Target. Plus, online services like Chewy provide more discounts and deals on its pet products.

8. Books

Another item to never buy at Target is books. Sure, for the casual reader, the store’s selection is accessible, convenient, and appears to have affordable prices. The problem, however, is that Target’s book selection is abysmally low, with only the newest and most popular bestsellers available.

If you’re looking to get a book, even a new bestseller, there are more useful options out there. For one, places like Amazon or Barnes & Noble offer thousands more titles than Target. Plus, if you’re willing to buy used, you can get more affordable, discount prices for the same books that Target offers. (These are the 25 most banned books in America.)

9. Craft/Art Supplies

Much like books, the Target sections for craft and art supplies are one of convenience. The arts and crafts aisle may appear attractive, but the selection is small and expensive compared to stores that specialize in these types of goods. As an artist myself, I have been disappointed by the quality and price of Target’s items. Sure, the art products are packaged nicely, but they pale in comparison to other brands.

You’re far better off heading to an art-devoted store like JoAnn’s Fabrics or even Michaels. Since these stores specialize in all things arts and crafts, you’ll be able to find a wider range of specialty items like paint pens, oil paints, and canvases at comparable prices to Target.

10. Greeting Cards

Perhaps the most alluring section of any Target store is its greeting cards. Well-lit and splashed with color, this area of the store seems to have every type of greeting or holiday card imaginable. Be it for remembrance, a 25th anniversary, or a family member’s birthday, chances are, Target has a fun option for you.

Unfortunately, Target brand greeting cards are notoriously expensive. Even the most generic, bare-bones card can run you up to $4. This is nearly $4 more than an almost identical card at Dollar Tree or 99 Cents Only. Plus, a slightly more elaborate card at Target can cost you up to $7. For this reason, you’re better off getting greeting cards at any other store — these are 30 everyday items that are cheaper at Dollar Tree Than at Walmart.

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