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This Is What the Big Red Spheres Outside of Target Are For

Reader's Digest logo Reader's Digest 10/18/2021 Alexa Erickson
© John Greim/Getty Images

The tenth-largest retailer in the world, Minneapolis-based Target Corp., operates more than 1,900 stores and 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 for these things you should always be buying at Target or drop into one only on an as-needed basis, you have likely 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. Speaking of, do you know the purpose of those numbers on your toaster?

The giant concrete balls, called bollards, serve as safety precautions for keeping cars from driving onto the curb 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's vehicle was struck by a runaway two-ton concrete ball—which had come loose when a pickup truck hit it—outside a New Jersey Target store. The woman sued the retailer. In another spherical conundrum, do you know why airplane windows are round?

People have also made light of the concrete spheres, including one shopper who drew a smiley face on one that had a dusting of snow on it. Next, get to the bottom of another rather comical aspect of Target's brand: the Target dog.


  • The List: “The Real Reason Target Always Has Those Red Spheres Outside”
  • Retail Info Systems: “Top 100 Retailers, 2021 Edition”
  • Harvard Business School: “Bullseye: Target's Cheap Chic Strategy”
  • Target: “community & store safety"
  • New York Post: “Mom sues Target over ‘hazardous’ giant red balls outside store”
  • UPI: “Woman suing Target over damage from runaway concrete ball”

The post This Is What the Big Red Spheres Outside of Target Are For appeared first on Reader's Digest.


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