8 Things I Always Buy at Target

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I’ve literally been shopping at Target my entire life. I grew up in Shoreview, Minnesota, and the very first Target ever opened in the neighboring Twin Cities suburb of Roseville in 1962, just five years before I was born.

Our favorite local store with the red bull’s-eye logo helped launch a discount-store chain that today boasts more than 1,900 stores.

I now live in Seattle, with my own Target just a short drive away. In this ever-changing world, Target — with its carefully curated product lines and comfortably tidy aisles — is a rare constant.

This is a very personal guide to my favorite Target purchases. I grew up in the 1970s and 1980s, so my Target memories have a retro flair: Lisa Frank folders! Trapper Keepers! Jelly shoes! “Charlie’s Angels” dolls!

1. School supplies

One of my favorite childhood Target memories is trekking there each September, school supplies list in hand, to load up on colorful new folders, notebooks, pencils, pens and endless reams of college-rule paper.

Now that I’m a mom, I know schools sometimes demand fresh supplies throughout the year. Target maintains a decent stash of everything from glue to glitter — for when that Alexander Hamilton diorama assignment sneaks up on you.

Speaking of things sneaking up, this is a great time to buy 2021-22 planners for yourself, your kid or anyone else. Target has a nice selection, starting for less than $5.

2. Retro toys

Target’s well-stocked toy section has all the trends, of course, plus exclusive items that can’t be bought elsewhere. As a nostalgia freak who’s co-written two books about lost pop culture, I have to praise their vintage-style toys.

When I see a wooden toy tool kit for toddlers, it’s as if I’m back in the 1970s. Does Target sell the classic Magic 8 Ball? It is decidedly so.

3. Books

Print books aren’t dead yet. Target has an exceptionally well-curated book section, including best-sellers alongside similar books readers might also enjoy and books for kids of all reading levels. Book discounts are sometimes as much as 30%.

4. ‘Bullseye’s Playground’ deals

At Bullseye’s Playground, a section named for Target’s canine mascot, deals abound. The bargains, from home decor to snacks, change often.

I hit up this section whenever I’m hosting a kids birthday party. The pencils, small games, stickers and art supplies are great goodie-bag options. My daughter still raves about how no mechanical pencil works as well as the cute Target ones I scooped up for her last party.

5. Coffee pods

Use a Keurig coffeemaker? When it’s time to buy K-Cups, you’ll find a better selection and better deals at Target than at most grocery stores.

Target offers K-Cups in larger boxes than I’ve found elsewhere, so you don’t need to restock as often. Also, you can purchase refillable dishwasher-safe pods and fill them yourself from a bag of your favorite grind.

6. Trail mix

Just the other week, I stood behind a shopper who was shoveling Target’s own Archer Farms trail mix into her cart as if she were prepping for a zombie apocalypse. And for good reason: It’s tasty, inexpensive and comes in a variety of hike-inspiring flavors.

Outdoorsy types who are suckers for sweets can load up on Monster Trail Mix with M&Ms, nuts, raisins, chocolate and peanut butter chips. Those who like spicy snacks have Tex Mex Trail Mix, including spicy peanuts, almonds, salsa corn sticks and sesame sticks.

7. Travel-size personal care items

TSA rules make it tough for fliers to pack their personal care products in carry-on luggage because full-size shampoos or lotions might be taken away.

Target is one store where I consistently find travel-size toiletries in a variety of brands, including shaving cream, soap and toothpaste. Or buy a pack of empty containers and fill them yourself.

8. Holiday season candy and sweets

Whether you’re filling a Christmas stocking or stocking up on Halloween candy, in Target’s seasonal candy section you’ll find exclusive flavors that aren’t sold anywhere else.

Prefer to do your own holiday baking? The seasonal sprinkles, molded cake pans and colorful cupcake wrappers at Target rival those sold at craft and cake stores.

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