James Lileks
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Target has announced that it's building some experimental stores that have much more room. My first thought, having just come from a shopping trip: That's great! More space for things they're out of.

That's a cynical and bitter reaction, and I retract it immediately. Supply chain issues, staffing issues, I get it. But it's annoying to the average customer who's been cosseted by bounty all his cushy life.

Example: The other night I made a trip for liquefied ersatz eggs. You know, the stuff that's just like eggs and made with real eggs and delivers real egg satisfaction, but you know it's some quasi-yolk batter emboldened with thickening agents.

I use it because there are mornings I cannot be bothered to go through the tiresome rigamarole of dealing with real eggs. You have to break them, and considering what eggs cost these days, you wince — the price of one dozen is like Humpty Dumpty's bill for the emergency room.

Plus, you have to fish out shell splinters. The liquid stuff is fine, because it turns out you can make an omelet without breaking some eggs.

The store was out. But as long as I was there, I figured that I could pick up a chair and a belt and some cough drops, as one does on an average Target run. Maybe a bale of bathroom tissue, because we're all still scarred by the Charmin Drought of 2020 and snap up spare rolls when the shelves look denuded.

But the cough drops I used to buy have been missing for months. There's still a space for them, but it's like a retail version of a bedroom for a kid who left for college. Someday it'll be back. What happened? Did the Halls Mentho-Lyptus factory blow up, and if so, was the irritating effect of the smoke immediately counteracted by the soothing power of menthol?

All I know is that the big bags of Halls cough drops have vanished, and I've had to do with store brands. The ones that say "Compare to Halls!" The stuff tastes like saccharine and Kool cigarettes.

But let's say the stocking issue has been fixed by the time the new big stores open. That still leaves the question: What could they possibly put in the new spaces?

When I was a kid, the Ben Franklin store had pet birds and turtles. You could go in for a school notebook and some gum and walk out with a parakeet. Mom never said, "Run down to the store and get some budgies," but if she did, you knew where to go.

A pet department wouldn't work, though. I would stop going to Target because I know I'd bring home a dog every time. Can of beans, socks, hangers and a dog. It would be hard to beep a pup on the self-checkout, too.

Here's a suggestion: seasonal goods! Hold on, you say, there's already a seasonal section. Yes. But it's the future season, not the one we're in. Gardening stuff shows up in the winter, as if we're going to buy seeds and deck chairs and really get a good start on spring in February. Of course the summer stuff disappears after July 4th, because it's Back to School!

I mean, you go to Target in August and you want to buy a turtle, you're out of luck.