Let’s face it: Target is kind of a shopping black hole from which it seems you can never escape. Need laundry detergent? No problem! While you’re at it, you probably also need some Market Pantry fruit snacks, a new toaster or sweatpants (you know … for when the weather eventually dips under 70). So I was a bit shocked at myself when I showed up sans shopping list to the Tuesday, Sept. 13 to check out the debut of the mass merchandiser’s collaboration with the Italian fashion house, Missoni.
“Whoa….There’s a crowd at Target! In North Hollywood!!” I’d texted my husband at 7:56 a.m., a time usually spent getting ready for my day job. Their iconic Charlie Brown-esque zig zag prints aren’t really my thing, but I was curious to see the source behind all the hype and I found myself at Victory and Vineland with about 40 other people.
Four minutes later, the fashion folk were getting antsy.
“It’s 8 o’clock!” someone yelled. When the double automatic doors suddenly opened, I texted to my husband (lest he actually cared), "there’s clapping happening now." His response: “Wtf? Is there a line?”
Target executive team leader Mallory Scribner saw the madness first-hand. She'd opened the store that day and though she and her staff expected a crowd, they didn't anticipate the magnitude of it all.
"It was pretty crazy that day," said Scribner one week later as she was checking the sales floor inventory. By 7 a.m., people were already waiting in front of the store, she said, and at 8, "there were people trying to pull the doors open" as she stood in front of them. When she finally unlocked the doors, "they just started running."
Scribner said she'd never heard of the brand before and that she knew many other people who weren't familiar with Missoni too. Target has had collaborations with designer brands in the past like Liberty of London and Calypso St. Barth, she said, but those didn't generate quite nearly as much hype as Missoni.
“The excitement for this limited-time designer collection is unprecedented,” a Target spokeswoman told the NY Times. This “excitement” could be seen at Targets everywhere in the U.S. as the Missoni for Target fervor had hit full force: fashion bloggers buzzed about the collaboration for weeks, and full-page ad campaigns could be seen in Vogue and other fashion magazines. In Culver City, the line wrapped around the store with customers who arrived as early as 5:30 a.m., according to Racked LA. Missoni madness even crashed Target’s website for most of the day. When the site finally came back, visitors were greeted with a front-page image that read, “Missoni for Target! Yep, it’s that Missoni. We’re excited too.”
I regret not taking photos and shooting video, but the opening scene would look a lot like this. I’ll never forget the sound of dozens of flip flops hitting the tile floors and five shopping carts crashing together as shoppers simultaneously tried to be among the first ones in.
On the left side of the store, ladies made a mad dash to get their hands on zig-zag-patterned cardigans and dresses in the women’s clothing section. Others made a beeline to the domestics area, where Missoni for Target pillows, bedding sets and bath towels were promptly snatched from the shelves. Judging by the amount of stuff in one man's cart, it seemed he was in need of duvets and shams for at least five beds.
One woman described in horror to her friend that another shopper had stolen her clothes straight out of her cart. "These are an X-large!" she fumed before walking off to find the perpetrator.
When word got out that there were more items in the back, the look on the Target employees’ faces could only be translated into pure fear for their lives.
One employee, a tall, red-haired male, made a noble attempt to guarantee all customers had their fair chance at scoring the goods by informing everyone they could only touch the inventory once they were safely on the shelf. After consulting with whomever was on the other end of his black walkie talkie, it seemed he was given orders that may have sounded like, “Just give the people what they want and you’ll walk away alive.”
Twenty minutes after the store opened, the shelves looked like this. Missoni lovers across America sobbed collectively on the Internet as fashionistas in Minnesota, Arkansas and Washington, D.C. posted photos of empty Target racks.
It’s no secret that most of the items would end up on eBay. One couple at the NoHo Target told ABC News one of the two Missoni for Target bicycles they scored was going on eBay. The bikes, which retailed for about $500 in stores, sold for as high as $3,550 and had an average selling price of roughly $1,049. The day after the launch, there were over 21,500 Missoni for Target items on eBay, according to Racked National.
As I left the store that memorable day, the same red-haired employee stood at the front to bid customers goodbye. “You survived the vultures!” I told him as I walked out. “I know, right?” he responded, half-exhausted.
I'll admit that I picked up a few things -- Somewhere during the Missoni mess I had bought into the fervor when I saw others hyperventilating over the brightly-colored sweaters, mod shift dresses and patterned shirts. I got home and realized happy that bright floral-print blouses were so not me and returned most of the merchandise a few days later.
When I came back to the NoHo store one week later, the giant "Missoni for Target" signs that had been hanging from the ceilings were nowhere to be seen, the only Missoni item left was a pair of long fuschia knit gloves.
“Welcome back, Target,” I thought to myself. “It’s good to have you normal again.”