In the few years I’ve been writing about Santa Clarita, I’ve caused my share of trouble. I’ve exposed some things that made some powerful people very uncomfortable, and even managed to make some powerful people much less powerful.
But I’ve never been discouraged from writing a piece as much as I’ve been spooked off of this one. I’ve been yelled at from passing vehicles, threatened to my face, and warned on social media. But I won’t be silenced. My obligations are to the readers and the truth.
The best-kept secret in Santa Clarita is known to tens of thousands, but effectively unknown to a hundred thousand. It’s the Target in Canyon Country.
If you shop there, you already know what I’m talking about — and you’re probably mad at me already. If you’re puzzled or disinterested, stick around for a minute.
One night, when talking to some other writers, I brought up some story ideas for the new site.
“I’m going to write about underrated things in Santa Clarita, the best-kept secrets.”
“My first will be about the Target in Canyon Country”
“You know, the one off of the 14, Golden Valley…”
“Why?” one interjects.
I light up, “Oh, it’s huge. You can park anywhere, it’s never crowded…”
“Oh, I know where it is. Why?”
“What do you mean?”
“Why would you do that? Why would you tell everyone?”
Another person jumps in, puts his finger in my face. He might have referenced Fight Club. He told me to back off. I laughed it off, but quickly noticed that I was the only one laughing.
Apart from what I’m risking, this is also costing me something. I shop there, and I’d appreciate it if you didn’t. And if you must, please keep it to yourself.
But I have my duties, and you deserve the truth. Mostly because you’ve been doing it wrong.
There is little in Santa Clarita that is manmade that isn’t mediocre. The reason why we live here is because of its better-than-average mediocrity. And Target is the best-case-scenario of a big box, middlebrow, general-purpose retail chain. Likewise Santa Clarita is the best-case-scenario of the sprawling, middlebrow, general-purpose Los Angeles suburb that it is.
But if life leads you into quiet, less-eventful suburbia, why not choose the better option? So it’s SCV over Simi, Target over Wal Mart, and the Canyon Country Target over the Valencia Target.
It’s really big. Just the right size. It’s not cramped and buzzing with tension like Valencia, but it’s not a tourist attraction like the Mall of America-inspired Greatland Target in Burbank, either.
It’s (almost) never crowded. Big aisles, few people. Take it at your own pace. Walk a few laps, no one will notice. You won’t be bumped into the iPad case, nor trapped in a bath towel aisle. Avoid the day before school, the day after Thanksgiving, and maybe Christmas eve, and you’ll leave less stressed and hurried than you entered.
Parking is ridiculously easy. If most SCV parking lots are lakes, this is an ocean. There are even walkways between some parking lanes.
That view is ridiculous. I don’t know if there’s a Target with a back yard like this one, a panoramic western view of the valley’s east side. It’s even better at night. To the north are the highest peaks in city limits.
You can borrow from the neighbors. Did you ever hope to get a box of Legos, a box of cereal, a storage box, and a box of screws in one trip and realize that Target’s hardware section is less robust than you remembered? That really sucks if you’re in Valencia. But here, you can walk to Lowes. Did you ever forget to put that laundry in the dryer, so you make that early morning run to Target so you can show up to work in a different shirt than yesterday? (just me? ok). Well, if Target doesn’t have it, there’s always Kohl’s. Or any of several other big box, middlebrow, narrow-purpose retail chains.
It’s not Wal Mart. No, it’s not.
Caution: the fun won’t last forever. The less-attractive part of the view consists of acres of graded hills, suspended in their 2007 state. As the real estate market thaws, those hills will fill up with hundreds, if not thousands of Target shoppers.
Side effects: I think gigantic parking lots are a waste of land, and one of the least attractive things about the city. They are bad policy, encourage bad habits, and discourage good ones. I also mourn the loss of the small retailers that lost their footing when Target and the like came to this town (and every other town) a quarter-century ago. But what’s done is done. You’re going to shop at Target one way or another. You might not have a chance against the amoral glacier of American capitalism, but you can choose which Target to go to.
Also: you’re welcome.