Dear Lola,

My favorite store to shop at is Target, I go at least once a week. I’ve found myself wondering about an oddity I recently noticed. Why do they have handheld shopping baskets? I have never seen anyone use them, and I cannot imagine someone coming into Target and leaving with less than twenty items. The aisles are full of treasure just waiting to be discovered! Don’t you think it’s time Target got rid of the tiny baskets?


Treasure Trove

Dear Treasure Trove,

Ahhhh. The ‘tiny basket in the big-box store’ riddle. While a great idea in a grocery store for those shoppers running in for milk and cookies, they do seem a bit out of place in a store that prides itself on selling everything a human could need to survive another day in suburbia. That includes hiking boots for those brief forays into the wild frontier – or garden, as you humans like to call it.

If hope had a price, Target would sell out in minutes.

There is actually a very valid reason that Target installed handheld shopping baskets. They are placed there for the enjoyment of the employees who often find themselves on the wrong side of an irate customer who watched someone else take the last celadon colored tablecloth. As customers walk through the door, employees take note of anyone who selects the handheld shopping basket. These shoppers are then unknowingly assigned to a group based on their walking patterns.

Let the employee shenanigans begin!

The Perspirer is the most common variety of hand-held basket shopper, though they are the hardest to spot due to their arrival sans sweat. Once The Perspirer has selected their basket, bets are placed and the timer begins. The clock only stops when The Perspirer returns to the front of the store, sweating profusely and hauling an overly full basket – along with an additional armful of items they didn’t know they needed. A bonus round is triggered if The Perspirer grabs a wheeled cart and tours the store again. The employee who most accurately guesses the shopping time of The Perspirer wins the pot of money.

The winner of the bet buys a round of tacos for lunch.

Employees also find comedic relief by the antics of the Overzealous Shopper. When this type of customer enters the store, they make a beeline to the handheld baskets under the mistaken belief that it will be quicker and easier to maneuver the oft-times crowded aisles. They’ve turned the act of shopping into a video game and the object is to get to the cashier as quickly as possible. As the Overzealous Shopper races through the store at breakneck speeds, the employees find themselves acting quickly to create obstacles. A favorite among staff is to block off each end of the same aisle with carts and then watch the Overzealous Shopper spin in a circle three times, desperately searching for a way out.

Bonus points if the Overzealous Shopper becomes dizzy and falls down.

There is one final customer who selects the handheld shopping basket. The Over-Achiever. This customer prides themself on having levels of self-control that the rest of society can only hope to one day experience. The Over-Achiever walks into the store with a shopping list, and they will not deviate from that list. Undaunted by the large SALE signs posted throughout the store, The Over-Achiever will not be tempted by anything short of the items that are on their list. Employees will often watch this customer with a sort of horrified glee, while simultaneously trying to lure The Over-Achiever into temptation. Staff have been known to offer goods for free, much to their manager’s dismay.

The Over-Achiever has never been beaten.

Having attained unicorn status, any employee who conquers The Over-Achiever is instantly granted a position in the top management of the company. They are also supplied with free cookies for life because hard work should have great rewards.


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