The Target diaries: Enter the liquidator

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Photo: Flickr/Jay Reed

Canada is facing the biggest private-sector closure in recent history, and 17,600 Target workers will soon be out of a job. An employee of Target Canada is documenting the last days of work at the store during its liquidation.

The source of the high-pitched chinks becomes obvious as the woman and her bangles enter the break room. All eyes follow the older woman, shrouded in a black blouse and tight black jeans bejeweled with a shiny belt. We know her as "The Liquidator from Las Vegas."

She strides past us in her high heels leaving a waft of floral fragrance over the small cluster of Target workers. A few of the folks at the 'soon-to-be-sold' table raise their eyebrows at one another. Today, the Liquidator takes over the operations of the store. 

The massive signs telling of the discounts available to shoppers adorn the outside walls and the indoor red walls of the Target structure.

"Up To 40% Off"

"All Sales Final"

"No cheques. We accept REDcard, VISA, MasterCard, Cash and Debit card"

The shoppers don't like what they see. Some shoppers reveal hopes of deeper discounts, while others shrug their shoulders and pay for items without an argument. Discount signs dominate the building now. Handwritten stickers are taped to the racks and any structure used to display wares.

The sound of a drill drowns out conversations as all visible signs of Target are being removed, including pictures of the dog mascot. Banners announce that the pharmacy is closed.

As I think about Target no longer having a Starbucks, Target Mobile or a pharmacist, a lump of sadness sits in the back of my throat. It's traumatic and heartbreaking for the employees to see the deconstruction of the interior of the building while each one of us works to be of exemplary service to the guests.

My thoughts are interrupted by an announcement on the overhead broadcast system: "The ATM guy is here to pick up his ATMs." I feel boxed in as the goods from all areas of the department store are moved closer and closer to the front of the building.

As soon as the shoppers walk in they are met by a wall of paper towels and toilet paper. Behind that is a display of furniture flanked by a small collection of jewelry and four rows of footwear for all ages. The men's clothing is now side by side with the women's, while at the back of the building, steel structures stand bare; sentinels to the breakdown of the Canadianized foreign corporation.

The consensus among the employees is that it is very difficult to continue with our once purposeful, fun-loving attitude. These days, out on the floor, we have to be satisfied with exchanging weak smiles and encouraging words.

A camera flash catches my attention. "The Liquidator," now sometimes lovingly referred to as the "Terminator," takes random photos of the cashiers on duty, the well-maintained displays and carefully placed discount signs. We hear that she showed her fellow liquidators back in Vegas the exemplary condition of our store compared to others.

These days, we are working hour-by-hour, not knowing when the store will be closed forever.

Currently, I am required to call in daily to check on whether or not I still have a job.

-- The individual activity of one man with backbone will do more than a thousand men with a mere wishbone. – William J.H. Boetcker

Canada is facing the biggest private-sector closure in recent history, and 17,600 Target Canada workers will soon be out of a job. An employee of Target Canada is documenting the last days working at the store during its liquidation.

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