The legacy of Target Canada's abandoned stores have been memorialized into a Tumblr — Abandoned Targets Of Canada.
Target entered the Canadian retail landscape to a mixed reception in early 2013. It left a mere two years later in 2015, announcing the closure of all it's stores and liquidation of its assets.
The company's blindingly fast withdrawal back to the U.S. left the valuable retail real estate of its former stores with an uncertain future. Some of the luckier stores will be turned into Lowe's, Wal-Mart's or Canadian Tire's. Some of the leases were returned to their landlords.
Currently, many still remain abandoned.
It was this picture that inspired, Andrew Burke, an Associate Professor in the Department of English at the University of Winnipeg.
"I started ATOC after taking a few photographs of Target sites in Winnipeg. The original one dates back to April, when I Instagrammed a shot of the St James location and titled it "Abandoned Targets of Canada #1" as a joke," Burke told The Huffington Post Canada in an email. "It's the kind of title artists give to a photographic series and, even though I don't think I had any intention at that point taking any more, I thought it would make a good series."
"It wasn't until July that I took the second photo, of the Grant Park location, and it was this one that really started the whole thing in motion," Burke said. "After I posted that photo to Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, as 'Abandoned Targets of Canada #2' a few friends sent me more photos from across the country and I decided to set up the Tumblr site, making sure that I attribute the photos to my "roving correspondents" across the country."
Although, Burke's academic research has to do with cultural memory and nostalgia, he notes his more general interest in "abandoned spaces, old technology, and the way things so quickly become lost to time."
"I was drawn to the abandoned Targets because there is something sad about empty buildings, especially ones that look so new," Burke said. "I mainly think about it as a kind of art project that has found a home in the Internet."
Burke believes that the story of Target Canada is, "on one hand, the story of failure."
"But, on the other hand, I think it is also about misjudgment. There was great excitement about Target coming to Canada, but when they did eventually show up, the shine went off them. People complained that they didn't have the same stuff as the American ones or realized that they weren't as good as they hoped they would be. So the abandoned Targets are also about how you can really, really want something and then, when you finally have it, the desire is replaced by disappointment."
"I think abandoned Targets photograph very well. It's been great to do it in summer as the red concrete balls and detailing contrast with the blue skies. And even though the Target locations (most of which used to be other "failed" department stores such as Zellers, or to go even further back, Woolco) are functional architecture, there is a strange kind of beauty to them," he said. "People sometimes send the photos with an apology that their picture looks like all the others. But that's the point, I think! There's only so many ways to photograph these buildings and, all across Canada, there are these mostly suburban spaces that all more or less look the same. There is a pleasure in the visual repetition, but there's also something disturbing about it."
"My plan is to keep the Tumblr going as long as people keep sending me photos. There were 133 Target locations in Canada and I'd like to feature them all."
Click here to check out the Abandoned Targets Of Canada on Tumblr.
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