Maybe they should have used the French "Tar-Zhay" pronunciation

Target Canada has today entered bankruptcy protection as it begins to close all of its stores and retreat back into Fortress America.

By now everybody knows the big problem with Target: they couldn't keep much stock, and their much-ballyhooed low prices turned out to be a phantom. Last summer I swung by the Bonnie Doon Target store and did some minor price checking: the prices were all higher than WalMart, almost all higher than Superstore, and in many cases higher than Canadian Tire or Home Depot. They were cheaper than IKEA or Mexx. Yay.

So the crowds stayed away. That Target store in Bonnie Doon was a wasteland devoid of shoppers. Even last December in the middle of the Christmas rush, I was able to breeze effortlessly though the West Edmonton Mall store without fear of bumping into other shoppers. I didn't buy anything there, but why would I? The prices were ridiculous and I could swing by the Walmart on 184th Street after midnight and get both small (yet, ironically, bigger than Target) crowds plus all the good deals that Zellers 2.0 was unable to provide.

And with this, the Zellers experiment has finally come to a close. The $1.8B that Target paid for the stores now seems like a massive overpay, and a huge win for the world's oldest corporation: NRDC Equity Partners of New York City. Despite the best wishes of the CBC, nobody actually is "pining for Zellers" and other than relatives of Zellers employees nobody really mourned the loss. (We did mourn the loss of our Club Z points, but that's not the same thing. I had 11.7 trillion Club Z points by the end of the run, and I never did get to cash them in for a 3% discount on paper towel like I'd planned). The stark reality is that there just isn't enough room to spare in the Canadian retail market. There wasn't when oil was $120+ per barrel, and there certainly isn't going to be now. In fact, Sony has announced the closure of all 14 of its Canadian stores as well (though Sony was more an upscale boutique marketed store)

Target couldn't compete with Walmart on price, but according to retail analysist Doug Stephens, Target's mistake was launching too big too fast. So they should have started smaller? But then they couldn't compete with Walmart on both price and reach. And Target had reach: 133 stores across Canada, many of them anchor tenants in medium sized malls.

And now the question will be what will fill those anchor positions. There aren't many candidates available: Canadian Tire, Rona, and Home Depot are the likely candidates that could expand operations, but they likely would want their standalone big box stores instead. Malls could turn their anchor tenant into a collection of smaller units, but this seems highly unlikely. Hell, in the United States Target is closing operations at malls!

What's obvious is that, for Edmonton at least, there's now a glut of department store-style retail space available. This brings the big obvious next question: what the hell are they going to do with all these new retail space being built at South Edmonton Common? Who's left to move in?