All about Cana­dian culture, from people and lan­guage to food, drink, books, music, and film

Daily Life

From health care and edu­ca­tion, to local eating and shop­ping, to fes­ti­vals and things to do, get the scoop on life in Canada

Housing, Jobs, & Money

Fin­ding a home, wor­king, saving, and inves­ting in Cana­da – here’s how


What you need to know to live in, work in, or immi­grate to Cana­da. Citi­zen­ship infor­ma­tion, too.


Tra­vel ideas and tips for visi­ting, tou­ring, and deci­ding where to live in Canada.

Home » Daily Life, Housing, Jobs, & Money

Shopping in Canada, or Why US expats miss Target

Submitted by on January 24, 2011 – 10:34 am4 Comments

Target LogoDid you hear that chee­ring sound ? That was the Ame­ri­can expat com­mu­ni­ty in Cana­da gree­ting the news that U.S. retai­ler Tar­get is ente­ring the Cana­dian mar­ket.

Tar­get is pur­cha­sing most of HBC’s Zel­lers chain, and over the next two to three years, they’ll convert 100 to 150 Zel­lers out­lets into Tar­get stores.

Before I moved to Cana­da, I never thought that the Tar­get stores were any big deal. Sure, they had good prices for hou­se­hold basics, and they had a lot more style than other dis­count retai­lers, but I guess I took them for granted.

Then, when I arri­ved in Cana­da, I sud­den­ly unders­tood. I was sur­pri­sed at how often Van­cou­rites cross the bor­der to shop in the U.S., a phe­no­me­non that’s repea­ted in bor­der cities across Cana­da. Most Cana­dians – except those in fashio­nable Mon­treal, per­haps – will tell you that the­re’s sim­ply a bet­ter choice of mer­chan­dise avai­lable in the Uni­ted States, par­ti­cu­lar­ly if you’re loo­king for well-desi­gned, low- to mid-pri­ced goods of the kind Tar­get sells.

As Cana­dian Busi­ness maga­zine recent­ly wrote in « What’s so great about Tar­get ? »:

Cana­dian shop­pers still consi­der Tar­get one of the few Ame­ri­can retai­lers that still merits cros­sing the bor­der.…

What does Tar­get have to offer Cana­dians that they can’t alrea­dy scoop up at the local Wal­mart, Cana­dian Tire, or Loblaw Super­store ? The ans­wer is found not in the pro­ducts on the shelves so much as the shop­ping atti­tude the Min­ne­so­ta-based Tar­get Cor­po­ra­tion has mas­ter­ful­ly manufactured.…

Shop­ping at Zel­lers is about neces­si­ty. Shop­ping at Tar­get is about taking pride in the simple delights of middle class life.

Of course, we Ame­ri­can expats know that Tar­get is just a store, one of the ubi­qui­tous big box stores that has gra­dual­ly taken over our shop­ping exis­tence. And who knows whe­ther Tar­get’s prices, when the stores do open in Cana­da, will be as com­pe­ti­tive as they are in the States ?

But I’ll still look for­ward to the arri­val on this side of the bor­der of Tar­get’s cheap-chic under­wear, towels, and other hou­se­hold goods.

And in the mean­time, I’m hea­ding for my local Loo­nie-Too­nie store. (For all you Cana­dian new­co­mers, the « Loo­nie-Too­nie store » is Cana­da’s equi­va­lent of the Dol­lar Store, where most eve­ry­thing costs a dol­lar or two.)

What about you ? Do you still cross the bor­der to shop at « Tar-jay ? » Are you loo­king for­ward to Tar­get’s ope­ning in Cana­da ? Leave a com­ment and let us know.


  • Sonia says:

    In Toron­to, we usual­ly use the term « Dol­lar Store » or « Dol­la­ra­ma » – because alot of them are Dollaramas.

    Although, I have seen « Loo­nie-Too­nie », we just group that one into the term « Dol­lar Store ».

  • Roger says:

    I’ve lived in Cana­da for my entire life and dol­lar stores are cal­led dol­lar stores.

    This is the first time that I’m seeing them refe­red to as any­thing else.

    • Carolyn B. Heller says:

      Thanks for your com­ment, Roger. In Van­cou­ver, there are lots of « loo­nie too­nie » stores. I won­der if the term is a regio­nal one ?

  • Tweets that mention Shopping in Canada, or Why US Expats Miss Target | Living Abroad in Canada -- says:

    […] This post was men­tio­ned on Twit­ter by Caro­lyn B. Hel­ler, Caro­lyn B. Hel­ler. Caro­lyn B. Hel­ler said : Shop­ping in #Cana­da, or Why US #Expats Miss Tar­get, from : […]