NEW YORK — While the weather last weekend hardly made for perfect shopping conditions, aboard the Target Holiday Boat, things were rocking. Literally.
The inclement weather kept crowds at home, but the retailer’s "boat store," docked at Chelsea Piers, is set up to accommodate long lines and hoards of people — although the only way to get there is by taxi, car or crosstown bus. A large white tent leading up to the boat was erected and decorated to evoke a Target-like feel and included red artificial-turf flooring, white walls and the Target bull’s-eye logo on everything from the employees’ sailor hats to Santa’s outfit.
Inside the tent, several computers linked up to target.com offered shoppers the opportunity to log on and purchase any of the items featured on the boat, as well as those available in the mass retailer’s stores. A photo opportunity with Santa was available for festive shoppers, while greeters were busy not just dispensing holiday cheer, but red Life Savers and Target hot toddies, too.
On Saturday, it took only a matter of minutes to navigate the tent and less than an hour to complete the entire shopping spree. I climbed aboard the boat, which was swaying back and forth thanks to the choppy water. Inside, an assortment of 92 items (according to Target) were set up in individual Plexiglas cases along the sides of the boat or in the center area in what appeared to be a white plaster iceberg setting. While the merchandise was neatly displayed, shoppers couldn’t touch many of the items, nor were there any details about the merchandise other than a one-line description and price.
However, next to each item there were little stacks of printed Post-it Notes with pictures and a two-line description on them (but no price), which customers could tear off and mark the quantity wanted.
There was very little apparel among the boat offerings. Merchandise included Mossimo apparel such as a sweater, knit top and leather blazer; home appliances like a Michael Graves waffle maker, a stove-top popcorn popper and a Thermos turkey fryer; electronics like a digital camera, a CD player and a karaoke machine, and toys like a Hello Kitty boom box and an Easy-Bake oven. Prices ranged from approximately $2.99 for a Christmas ornament to $299.99 for a camcorder.Because I was shopping mainly for apparel and none of the Mossimo items or shearling accessories caught my eye, I opted instead for the George Foreman grill, tore off a Post-it and headed for the "redemption center," which sounded vaguely like a holiday morality tale.
The redemption center was located off the boat in the big tent. After handing the slip to a helper, she went to an inventory section and returned after about five minutes with the grill. Flipping through a Target advertorial, which showed all 92 items for sale on the boat, I noticed a Merona velveteen blazer that wasn’t on the boat. Grilling what appeared to be a floor overseer about it, I discovered that it was one of the items that was held up in the West Coast dock strike.
I also spotted a ballet-neck sweater. Once the saleswoman returned with my grill, she offered to go back and look for that item as well. But instead, she came out with a maroon Mossimo knit top for $14.99, which I saw inside, but wasn’t particularly struck by it. Once I felt it, however, it was rather a sumptuous knit and I decided to buy it. I carried both pieces over to one of the open cashiers — there were several sitting idly. She rang up my purchase of $58.28, bagged it all in plastic Target bags along with a box for the blouse, and I was on my merry way in the rain.