Monday, December 31, 2007

...fifty-seven candleholders

I wonder if it will surprise you to learn that, of all the stores/websites where I have managed registries, Target is my very favorite? I know many people have very warm and affectionate feelings about the Target shopping experience, but I say this as someone who has rarely had the pleasure of visiting an actual Target store. The closest I have come during the last couple years is spotting the one in Riverdale from a passing 1 train. But I've enjoyed their web registry very much.

First of all, check it out: they call it "Club Wedd." And they illustrate it with cute little cartoon people and birds, like you'd find in a ad. It's almost like they're not taking this whole registry thing too seriously! You might even get the impression that they don't think women are the only ones getting married!

I suppose they can afford to have a sense of humor about the registry process, because they know really serious registrants will probably have to look elsewhere: it's difficult to put together a really nice set of linens or bone china from the Target inventory. But I recommend making Target your first source for odds and ends, for a number of reasons. First, their website allows easy access to, and navigation from, the registry sign-in page. Mouse over "Gift Registries" in the menu at the top of the page, and you get an unobtrusive, completely comprehensive drop-down menu that allows you to search for or sign in to a registry/gift list (wedding, baby or other). After you sign in, you can use the site like any other customer, and add things to your registry using the handy little "Add to Club Wedd" button. Even better, the button is there whether you're signed in or not; find something you like, and you can click on it and sign in from there, instead of backtracking endlessly like certain other sites force you to do.

The one thing that puts Target head and shoulders above the rest of the field is the "Guest Ratings" feature. It's not as active as it could be, but the reviews that do exist are extremely helpful when you're registering for home goods without even seeing them in a store. This duvet looks pretty good on my computer, but will I like it on my bed? Absolutely, say a number of customers who already own it (including one who thinks it's "sheek"). How about the coordinating sheets? Lots of people love them too. And should I add the handsome blanket to complete the set? I might have, if I didn't have access to a long list of negative reviews complaining about how it sheds. God bless these other Target customers for taking the time to offer feedback.

The registry is also customer-friendly, as far as I can tell; they make it easy to see when an item is no longer available for purchase (although I don't think I registered for more than one of any item, so I can't say how clearly they indicate that). One friend bought us a number of items, which were sent in two shipments; that fact was clearly communicated to both of us. The only wrinkle was that the packing slip for the first shipment didn't tell me what was being sent separately, useful information that everybody else provides. So that was weird (and suspenseful!). My only other complaint is that they don't notify me if something on my list goes out of stock. But it seems nobody does. And it doesn't happen as often at Target as it does elsewhere (I'm looking at you, Crate & Barrel).

I'll conclude my trip through registry land with a postscript about Pottery Barn. We initially thought we might register there, but we changed our minds and removed all items from the registry list. But the website didn't allow me to delete it altogether. That's weak, Pottery Barn. Weak.

(To read all of my wedding-registry reviews, click here.)

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