I visited two Target stores, one in Wisconsin and one in New York City, to see how they compared.
The Target in New York was a smaller store where many items were secured on locked shelves.
In the Midwest, Target was much larger and featured a Starbucks, dressing rooms, and bathrooms.
Now, when I make a Target run, I shop at what the company calls a "small-format store" designed specifically for urban neighborhoods.
After announcing nine store closures in four metro areas due to rising retail crime in October, including one location in Manhattan, many Target stores are also ramping up their security with more items stored on locked shelves.
It's been a few years since I've shopped at a larger Target store outside of New York City. On a recent visit home to Wisconsin, I decided to return to the suburban Target of my youth to compare the two locations and shopping experiences.
First, I visited my local Target in Washington Heights — one of 10 locations in Manhattan.
Shoppers take an escalator to reach the 25,000-square-foot store.
Inside, a New York City-inspired mural adorned one of the walls.
Large windows featured views of the busy intersection below.
Plastic carry-out bags are banned in New York City, and stores like Target charge 5 cents for reusable bags if you don't bring your own. A sign reminded me of this at the entrance of the store.
The store had a few small shopping carts, but most people carried items around in baskets or reusable bags.
The aisles were short and narrow, but contained a wide variety of items.
A small home aisle sold housewares like towels, soap dispensers, and garbage cans.
A sign at the front had explained that "secured shelves" helped keep items from getting stolen, and I saw examples of this around the store.
Many items were locked in cases that required an employee to open.
Baby formula was locked up with a sign reading that due to "high demand and limited inventory," customers could only purchase four per person.
Personal hygiene products like toothpaste and deodorant were also kept behind lock and key.
Towards the back of the store, a CVS pharmacy offered prescription pick ups and vaccine appointments.
The small New York City store featured some produce and pantry essentials, but not a full grocery selection.
A gallon of Target's Good and Gather brand milk cost $3.99.
There were more self-checkout kiosks than cashiers to keep the constantly forming lines moving.
The small-format Target still served as a one-stop shop, even though it required employees unlocking many of the shelves.
While I grew up in Wisconsin, I hadn't been to a suburban Target in the Midwest for years and was excited to revisit one.
I visited a location in Grafton, Wisconsin, about 20 miles north of Milwaukee, which proved much quieter than the busy streets of New York City.
I noticed that the shopping carts were much larger than the ones in New York.
The store also had public restrooms, which my local New York City Target didn't have.
I'd forgotten about how suburban Target locations often have Starbucks cafes inside.
At 104,000 square feet, the Wisconsin Target was more than double the size of the small-format store in Manhattan.
The home section consisted of several aisles of decor and furniture in addition to the basics stocked at the Target in New York.
The grocery section was also much larger, with dozens of wide aisles full of produce, meat, frozen foods, and pantry staples.
A gallon of milk at the Midwestern Target was cheaper, priced at $3.29.
The CVS pharmacy was about the same size in both locations.
In addition to a larger selection of clothing, the Target in Wisconsin had dressing rooms, which Target in New York did not.
The most stark difference between the stores, aside from the size, was the fact that none of the items in the Midwest were locked up.
Even the baby formula, which was restricted to four per person in both stores, remained open and accessible on the shelves.
Plastic bags haven't been banned in Wisconsin, so the Target there didn't charge for reusable bags.
With more space, additional amenities, and no locked shelves, Target in the Midwest felt like a completely different store.
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