Consumer Bullseye

SuperTarget • 11100 Parkside Drive, Turkey Creek

From the outside, the SuperTarget at Turkey Creek looks enormous. Inside, it looks even bigger.

The grand mall on Parkside Drive at Turkey Creek lines up the superstores like the pyramids at Giza—Wal-Mart, Office Max, Old Navy, Goody's, and then, roughly the fifth major monument from the left, SuperTarget.

A huge sign identifies the supermarket simply as "Grocery." It's next to the SuperTarget sign, but the store has its own entrance. Perspectives are so large here that you don't even realize the two stores are connected until you walk in.

It is a Target. It is decorated in Target red. The entrances have the same Alice in Wonderland signs inside the door as regular-sized Targets—"Do Not Enter," "Enter Only," they say.

Once you've entered the SuperTarget, though, leaving is harder than you might think.

There's an eerie sense of being stuck in The Truman Show here. Like the movie's hero, a young man raised in a fake town as part of a televised reality show, you feel like the store is some kind of movie set and you don't have full control of the script.

I'm sure part of it is the just the size of the place. A line of 32 checkout stands stretches to what seems like infinity on your left and the groceries on your right fill supermarket aisles to the back of the acreage.

There is room enough in this place not just for a supermarket, but an entire town. Throughout the grocery store and the rest of the Target are scattered what seem like traveler's relief stations, containing You-Are-Here maps of the store and a phone to the service desk for help finding particular products or the way out.

My first visit, I ventured out of groceries to the far side of the store to buy recordable CDs, discovered I had left my wallet in the car, and then, trapped on the back side of the moon with a full bladder, decided to bag the whole trip and head for home.

When I came back for a closer look at the groceries, the feeling that my life was not totally my own returned. It was not the dimensions alone at work. There is a seductive, spotless pleasantness about the store that is hard to resist.

When you reach the back corner of the store, for example, faux windows painted on the wall above the yogurt case show a photo of a beautiful farm landscape, like the false ocean horizon Truman sails to at the end of the movie.

All the walls are decorated in this wholesome motif—photos of bales of hay, smiling children in tire swings, rustic barns, old pick-up trucks with strangely perfect paint jobs.

This is a store that tells you how to live a happy, healthy life. "Eat Well, Pay Less," is the main piece of advice posted throughout the store, but other wholesome messages abound—"Always fresh," "Watching your diet?" "Expect low prices," "Outstanding quality," "Good to grill," "Eat well and save time."

Prices are moderate, slightly lower than the Bearden Kroger for our standard shopping basket, and while the store carries all the standard brands, it also features organic produce and natural beef and poultry products. SuperTarget's Archer Farms label offers premium products such as specialty rice dishes and risottos, and frozen hors d'oeuvres.

A display offers handouts detailing tips for healthy living—why eat natural foods, why pursue full nutrition, why live lean. The place is very well organized, the prices are right, the advice is really good for you.

When I signed up for cash back on my debit card at check-out, the friendly cashier walked me through it; he had the routine down pat, telling me exactly which buttons to hit as each screen popped up. This time it was all so easy and pleasant, I didn't want to go home.

The store is unreal, gargantuan, artificial. It is only a grocery store. But if it were a nursing home and my time had come, I swear I might happily live out my days at the SuperTarget. m