ON TARGET: tabletop
Target's tabletop department is a mix of open stock and boxed sets, private label and branded goods, and seasonal and year-round merchandise.
The tabletop department is located directly opposite the store's newly expanded grocery section. In this particular venue, grocery has not encroached on the tabletop category or other hard goods areas as it reportedly has in some locations.
There are two aisles of transitional design: simple porcelain whiteware in squares and rounds; 16-piece sets of porcelain and stoneware (embossed solids, floral patterns and a sprinkling of reactive glazes); patterned melamine dinner plates and tinted acrylic tumblers. There are boxes of flatware (20- and 45-piece sets) as well as open stock flatware (six forks, spoons or knives on a card). Glassware, too, is primarily comprised of expanded boxed sets, with some open stock glass tumblers.
Target's private label brands, Target Home and Room Essentials, dominate the display; they account for nearly two-thirds of the assortment. And of the two private label brands, the Target Home brand plays a starring role in tabletop: it is the only option in whiteware, in patterned melamine dinnerware, in acrylic tumblers, and in boxed stoneware and porcelain dinnerware sets. About half of the flatware options are branded Target Home.
The Room Essentials brand, aimed at younger consumers just starting out, is represented here primarily by solid-colored boxed dinnerware.
There are also many big-name brands available: Anchor Hocking in clear glass dinnerware and accessories, Libbey in drinkware, Oneida in flatware, Corelle in dinnerware. One of the most prominent upstairs tabletop brands at Target is Riedel; its Vivant stemware display accounts for about a quarter of the shelf space in the beverageware area. A large sign above the display explains the differences between six different stemware shapes (pinot noir, red wine, white wine, a balloon decanter and a stemless pinot noir and merlot). The shelves below are stocked with boxed sets of either two or four Riedel glasses, only some of which match the shapes on the sign.
Target educates its customers in other areas of the department as well, with one sign explaining the difference between porcelain and stoneware dinnerware (porcelain is "more durable and chip-resistant than stoneware," is dishwasher- and microwave-safe and "is delicate in design with uncompromising durability"); another sign, clipped to the shelf near the porcelain boxed set dinnerware, outlines the benefits of white porcelain, which, Target tells its customers, can be used for casual and formal dining, is perfect for everyday use, and can be easily updated and matched with other pieces.
While Target does not cross-merchandise its displays, it does cross-merchandise via adjacencies. Pantryware sits opposite the aisle of whiteware and glass dinnerware, while kitchen textiles are displayed across from the shelves of melamine dinnerware and flatware.
Endcaps are dedicated to seasonal and clearance merchandise. One featured outdoor products for the Fourth of July, a second highlighted Target's "Petals and Pastels" assortment of floral-patterned melamine dinnerware and colorful acrylic drinkware, a third highlighted summer clearance merchandise (more patterned melamine).
Target prides itself on great design and great value. In tabletop, the value was evident in the low-priced open stock whiteware (a $4.99 dinner plate) and melamine ($2.99 plates). The prices for boxed dinnerware sets of stoneware and porcelain are on par with other retailers: $49.99 for most 16-piece sets of stoneware, $59.99 for the porcelain sets.--Allison Zisko