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This is what the big red spheres outside Target stores are for

The Family Handyman logo The Family Handyman 2 days ago Alexa Erickson
a red stop sign sitting in front of a building© George Sheldon/Shutterstock

The second-largest retailer in North America, Minneapolis-based Target Corp. operates more than 1,800 stores and Target.com. Having revolutionized retail by adopting a "cheap and chic" strategy a generation ago, the company has had immense success. Whether you make a least one Target run every week or drop into one only on an as-needed basis, you have certainly come across the big red spheres situated outside the storefront.

While at first glance they appear to be an aesthetic feature to accompany the big, bold, red bullseye logo of the brand, those big red spheres outside Target stores actually serve a much more important purpose.

The giant concrete balls, called bollards, serve as safety precautions for keeping cars from driving into the storefront doors and potentially harming shoppers.

The spheres have been the subject of controversy for years. In 2016, a New Jersey mom hit Target with a $1.6 million lawsuit claiming they are a "nuisance that attracts children to play" on top of them. Her then five-year-old son was playing on top of a ball when he fell and shattered his right elbow. And in 2017, a woman, whose vehicle was struck by a runaway 2-ton concrete ball outside a New Jersey Target store, sued the retailer.

People have also made light of the concrete spheres. In 2014, the giant red spheres went viral after a prankster started taking funny selfies with them under the hashtag TargetBalling. And, a 2015 thread on TheBreakRoom.org has plenty of funny and controversial input on the bollards outside of Target.

Related video: Target steps up same-day shipping to take on Walmart, Amazon (provided by CNBC)

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