EDITORIAL: Target employees absorb fallout

Before asking about closeout sales, remember the plight of those who might soon be out of work

“When do you suppose everything will go on sale?” people gleefully asked when they heard of the imminent closure of one of Canada’s big-box retailers, wringing their collective hands at the sound of words like “liquidation.”

When retail giant Target announced its plan to expand into Greater Victoria, many thought it would provide much-needed competition for stores like Walmart and Superstore. We thought they would offer a range of affordable products and add options to our consumerism. We thought the American behemoth would bring with it the buying power – and therefore discounts on goods – they enjoy across the border in the U.S.

But it was not to be.

The general feeling out there is that Target took on too much, too fast. They overreached and wrongly assumed while delivering too little benefit to Canadians, who had lofty (some would say naive) expectations for the retailer to live up to. People expected to find here what they found when they went south to shop.

And now they have announced their departure, and the first thing the public thinks is, “When does the blowout start?”

We don’t blame people for thinking this way. We understand that everyone’s budgets are tight in these tough economic times. But we also wish the public’s thoughts would turn more quickly to those who will soon find themselves out of work, and the impact of Target’s departure on others who, through no fault of their own, will take a financial hit due to the retailer’s failure here.

More than 17,000 Canadians are employed by Target, including a number of West Shore residents. The company has formed a trust to help those who will lose their jobs, but anyone who has ever lived with employment uncertainty will point out, that’s little consolation right now.

An anonymous letter received recently by The Gazette from a Target employee said, “Many of us don’t know where we will go after Target closes. We don’t know how we’ll make ends meet. So in light of all the sales that will happen, please remember that the employees are people, too. We don’t want to be asked when the store officially closes or when the crazy sales will start. A kind wish of ‘good luck’ will do.”

So maybe next time you see a “Going Out Of Business” sign, try to think about someone else’s plight and have some empathy instead of rushing in to find out what’s on sale, elbowing your way down the aisles.

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