Window shopping: Target

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Back in June when I wrote my "Window Shopping: World Market" post, I intended for it to be the beginning of a series of posts about stores I dig. Then, end stage pregnancy and new parenthood swallowed me whole. Now that I am peeking out from under my pile of laundry and pacifiers and diapers, I'm picking the series back up again, and what better way than with one of my favorite stores, Target!

I realize my love of Target is a yuppy cliche, and I'm OK with that. I just dig the hell out of the Target aesthetic. While I don't think Target is really all that for bottom basement prices, I think a lot of the stuff there has style. Walking the aisles is fun. So, my sidekick and I took a stroll through a couple of our local stores recently and snapped pictures of a few things that caught our eyes (well, my eyes--he mainly napped).

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Mara-Mi Notecards, 20 count, $7.99

I'm a stationary sucker in general, and I liked nearly all of the Mara-Mi stuff they had at my local Targets, but these bird-themed greeting and thank you cards were my favorite (I know, "put a bird on it!"--such a Portlander). Mara-Mi isn't a brand I was previously familiar with, but their website tells me they're a Minnesota company, new to Target as of last spring.

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Kid Made Modern Colored Pencils, $5.99 and $7.99

Kid Made Modern is a line I've been noticing and appreciating at Target for a while now. The company was started by Todd Oldham as a response to art programs being cut in schools and focuses on "celebrating creativity and fun through information and inspiration." What that means, as far as the art supplies available at Target, is that the line is heavy on creative project kits and well-packaged simple supplies. There are tons of cool things available (and if I ever find the Charley Harper Paint-by-Number set in a store, you can bet it is coming home with me), but my eye was most drawn to the simple tubes of colored pencils, available in mini sizes for $5.99 or regular size for $7.99. Colored pencils are so versatile, and you can't beat this packaging.

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Up & Up Office Supplies, various prices

One thing I appreciate about Target is that their house brands, including Up & Up, are often just as stylish as the outside labels they bring in. The color-coded office supplies in the Up & Up line are my favorite--bright colors, great patterns, and everything coordinates. It makes me want to have a nice, clean, colorful desk. As you can see, they're all on sale right now, too, though I don't remember it being a particularly good sale.

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B. Toys Bristle Block Stackadoos, $19.39 ($17.49 online)

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B. Toys Pop-Arty! Funky Pop Art Beads, $21.39 ($17.49 online)

Toys is a new section for me to be interested in, but when I walked down those aisles, the B. Toys caught my eye right away, mostly because B. Toys uses a color palette that is not generally found in toys, especially toys for small kids. They're also really careful about their packaging, both for visual and environmental reasons. These bristled stacking blocks and pop beads seem like they'd be great fun for open-ended play, and some of their larger toys, like the Zany Zoo Wooden Activity Cube, looked great as well.

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Threshold Embroidery Linen Arrow Decorative Pillow, $24.99

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Threshold Bulldog Bookend Set, $19.99, currently on clearance for $13.99

Threshold is Target's newest in-house housewares collection, and from what I am seeing of it, I like it. The pieces tend towards the classic and understated, and there's not a lot of color, but there is a serious touch of whimsey--like the amazing bulldog bookends that I really, really want to buy. As is often the case with these sorts of collections, I prefer the detail/accessory pieces to the large textiles, but it's all pretty nice.

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The Curiosity Shoppe at TargetĀ® Gift Box Set, on clearance for $7

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The Curiosity Shoppe at TargetĀ® Ceramic Measuring Cups - Set of 4, clearance for $10.50 online, $7.50 in store

The Shops at Target thing has drawn a lot of criticism, including criticism from me. However, I think this last go-round is better, and I'm a particular fan of the offerings from The Curiosity Shoppe. There is a lot of cute stuff in the collection, and it's all on clearance right now. Two of my favorites are the gift boxes and measuring cups (I am such a huge sucker for measuring cups). I didn't see any at my local stores, but I really like the tea towels, as well.

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Lunchskins2 Reusable Sandwich and Snack Baggies, $9.99

I love the bold graphic prints on these sets of reusable snack and sandwich bags! They're made by Lunchskins by 3greenmoms. The original Lunchskins are USA-made, but I haven't been able to figure out if the less expensive Lunchskins2 that Target carries are also USA products or not.

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Merona Felt Cloche Hats, $16.99

Merona is one of Target's oldest house lines, and I think sometimes it gets a bad rap. Sure, some of the clothes and accessories can lean towards the stodgy, but some, like these colorful felt cloche hats, are right on the mark. There were several colors available, all with slightly different finishings, and I liked all of them. I was also impressed that at $16.99, they were 100% wool felt!

To close, I have to call out Target's clearance. Sometimes, I am irritated by it, as 15%-30% off doesn't really mean "clearance" in my mind. It's always worth checking out, though! On my latest trip, I ran across two end caps full of picture frames marked 30% off--in reality, they were all 60-75% off! I got a ton of nice, wood frames, some as large as 11X14, some with mats, some from the Thomas O'Brien Vintage Modern collection, for $3-$5 each. You have to look at each store, though, as only one of the three local Targets I frequent had this deal on. At the other stores, the same frames were only 20% off. The same goes for watching the online versus in-store prices--things are quite often priced differently online and at the brick and mortar store, and the lower price seems to be just about equally likely to be found in one place as another. If there is a method to this madness, I certainly like to know it. Anybody?

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