Bazaar on Aisle Nine


Caught between the insatiable beast that is Wal-Mart and that looming Kmart/Sears double threat, Target has always been our little engine that could. This month, the bulleted behemoth’s most noteworthy offering is its Global Bazaar line of imported goods, featuring furniture, lighting, dining, and “decorative accents.” And the prices, as you’d expect, are reasonable: blue-and-white pitchers from Poland are $19.99; floral teakwood carvings from Thailand, $44; woven banana-leaf baskets from China, $19.99; and sequined silk-like throw pillows from India, $19.99.

The line represents five regions: Asia, Africa, Latin America, Europe, and India, and most of them are further broken down into two subsections. For instance, there’s regular ol’ India, and then there’s (yikes) the colonial British India collection—expect more burnished candlesticks ($14.99) and “butler tray” tables ($79.99) in the latter. Asia is split into “Inspired by China” and “Inspired by Japan” and the European collection takes its cues from Sweden and Tuscany.

Admittedly, it’s hard not to view this as one sweet multicultural strip-mining, streamlined for suburbia’s sake. That said, Target’s done a smarter job with product selection than fellow culture-coppers Pier 1 Imports and Urban Outfitters (oh, ye of the notoriously overpriced batik throw). And we’d be lying if we didn’t say the charming wooden tower of drawers from Mexico ($69.99 to $89.99) didn’t catch our eye; or that we didn’t see unlimited gift potential in the Chinese leather-strapped travelers’ trunks ($17.99 to $34.99) or the four-drawer jewelry chest with brass pulls from India ($19.99).

According to an Associated Press article, the products are “authentic items purchased directly from the country they represent, including African gourds handmade by villagers.” Some surmise it’s Target’s way of filling shelf space till spring rolls around, and indeed, this line will only be carried until February 19. That’s three weeks to stock up on banana-leaf armchairs, carved gourd vessels, and antique Ghana trunks. They’re down the aisle from Electronics, right before you get to Housewares.

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