American retail giant Target welcomed Red Deer customers to its new store in the Bower Place Shopping Centre Tuesday as well as nine other locations around Alberta. Target also opened nine stores in British Columbia and three more in Manitoba on the same day. Two more stores in one in Calgary and another in British Columbia are scheduled to open next Tuesday. In March

Shoppers flock to Target

Excited shoppers filled the parking lot and then the aisles of Red Deer’s newest retail option on Tuesday, as Target opened its doors in the city for the first time.

Excited shoppers filled the parking lot and then the aisles of Red Deer’s newest retail option on Tuesday, as Target opened its doors in the city for the first time.

One woman said she “felt like doing a happy dance” walking into the store in the Bower Place Shopping Centre on Tuesday morning. The store is in the former Zellers site.

Another remarked that she was feeling “pretty good” because she was “in Target for the first time!”

The chain store offering a vast array of products at low prices has long been a hit with Canadians on cross-border shopping trips. In March, the first Target stores in Canada opened in Ontario.

The Red Deer store was one of 22 in Western Canada — 10 in Alberta — to open on Tuesday.

In total, the American retail giant has said it expects to open 124 stores in Canada by the end of the year.

Some who had been to Target stores in the U.S. said on Tuesday that the Red Deer facility was not a carbon copy after their maiden shop in the local location.

Kristine Roberts has shopped at American Target stores a lot, and thus was eager for the local opening. She needed pillows, having been unable to find any in town for under $40.

Her cart, upon leaving Target, was filled with them.

“There’s a lot of stuff in there that we don’t have anywhere else. There’s a huge selection,” she said.

Melanie Grenier also had anticipated the store’s arrival, and found it to be “nice and clean and fresh.”

Both she and Roberts said many things available in the U.S. stores are not also carried locally, but they still intend to be regular shoppers.

Debbie Stolte also entered the new store excited, based on what she had heard from her sister about Target shopping in the U.S. But, upon leaving, that enthusiasm was gone.

“It’s not as exciting as people were talking about when they went to the States to see Target, and the prices aren’t any lower than they are at Walmart or anything,” said Stolte.

“It’s not that grand,” she said, adding she was expecting lower prices with the Canadian dollar near parity and more “neat stuff.”

Target says it is “working to ensure the experience in Canada is as delightful and surprising as it is in the U.S..”

But Target Canada president Tony Fisher has acknowledged that most Canadian prices will be higher than those in the U.S., citing transportation, distribution, fuel and duty costs among the reasons for the higher prices.

Included in the Red Deer store is a Starbucks and a pharmacy. The retail giant, in partnership with Sobeys, offers frozen, dairy and dry grocery products.

Outside Walmart on Tuesday morning, Karla Wyld said she was not aware of the store opening and does not foresee a big shift in her shopping patterns because of the new arrival.

“Target versus Walmart: I’d say it’s pretty much the same,” said the Gull Lake resident.

Zac Zuber, another Walmart shopper, said he will probably check out the store, having liked the American location he has visited. Zuber said he is not expecting the merchandise selection here to match that found south of the border.

The store’s first flyer, featuring “unique savings” in conjunction with grand openings for the Western Canadian stores, will be available on May 24.

Hours of operation are 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., Monday to Saturday, and 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Sundays.

The Minneapolis-based corporation has more than 1,800 stores in the United States. The Canadian openings represent its first international venture.

mfish@bprda.wpengine.com

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