This is a row of Cash Registers at a Target st...

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I know that I’m supposed to hate stores like Wal-Mart. I’m a “hip” (major air quotes used here) twenty-something living in an urban metropolis. I should be a locavore obsessed with organic this and LEED-certified that. And yes, I do love little boutiques that sell one-of-a-kind kitsch. But a special place will always be reserved deep in my heart for major retail chains. Wal-Mart, Target, CVS, any supermarket (Harris Teeter, oh how I miss thee), and even Duane Reade (I never ever thought I would say this) are slowly creeping in becoming little nostalgic landmarks in my heart. The familiarity of these places feels like a warm embrace every time I walk in the door.

It’s very hard for me to cope with the fact that real estate in NYC does not allow for my beloved super-stores at the same frequency as in the rest of America. In fact, the more remote the location — the BETTER the superstore (I’m convinced it follows a mathematical formula), and I relish the occasions when I can visit rural USA and hit a Super Target. Oh, what a jackpot. Truthfully, I don’t even keep a Sam’s Club membership because I don’t think I could handle the power. That much selection in bulk? I would go to town, every time. And go broke. There’s something so magical about buying in larger quantities than normal. Rebel!!! Oooh.

But back to my initial point. No matter where I am, I can rely on the familiarity of what is inside of these stores — their familiar aisles and familiar brand names. That is massively comforting to me. Probably why I got in the business of working with brands (and why the brilliant book Lovemarks rings so true with me). Every time I walk into one of these stores, I become a kid on Christmas morning — looking to see what new products each brand has launched (superstores are beacons of product variety). And they never disappoint me. Never. So sippin’ on chain store hate-orade is so five minutes ago, in my book.

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