What are Dooney & Burke handbags doing at Target?

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Dooney & Burke handbags are putting “zhay” in Tarzhay with their arrival at the Bel Air Target store. Yes, those status bags with all the buckles and trims and the elite logo prominently displayed came to the Target discount store where I go to save money on cereal and peanut butter. Today I stumbled across the bags — displayed in a glass case as if they were museum pieces — among all the Cherokee, Merona, Mossimo, Xhilaration and Isaac Mizrahi brand bags all selling for less than $40. The three Dooney & Burke bags in the glass case were priced at $170 to $299 — a price usually only seen at Target when you’re buying an armchair or one of those enormous Parisian clock faces and thinking you’re getting a deal compared to what you’d pay at a furniture store. I was so stunned I called my husband to tell him the news. He was not duly impressed. I needed to find a woman to talk to. The one in the red Target polo shirt behind the jewelry counter informed me the Dooney & Burke bags showed up just a few days ago. Their appearance in some Target stores has created quite a buzz on the QVC Community Forum. One of the 20 posts on the topic includes what appears to be a response from Dooney & Burke customer service saying that they don’t know how the bags ended up in Target stores. (They also don’t appear on the Target.com shopping website.) The Target luxury handbag drama also appeared today on the pages of the Wall Street Journal. According to the WSJ story, the company that produces Coach handbags has sued Target alleging the discount store was selling a counterfeit Coach bag. The Coach company also isn’t too happy about some of Target’s Isaac Mizrahi and Cherokee brand bags it feels resemble Coach designs, the story said. I wonder what this little phenomenon does to the whole status bag concept? The ever-helpful About.com has dedicated an entire post to all the ways Target can provide for your handbag needs. Curiously, the page features plenty of handbag ads, but none from Target itself. Is this the beginning of the end for Carrie Bradshaw-esque status bag fetishes and shopping for brand name deals in the back alleys of New York City? Does toting a Tarzhay now have enough cachet? Or, have we Target shoppers just grown so used to schlepping a beat up diaper bag with us wherever we go that we’re plenty ready to snatch up a smarter looking tote while we shop for Pull-Ups and paper towels?

Update (10/4): Today I discovered an item on marketing blogger Theresa Quintanilla’s QViews site revealing the name of this luxury-at-Target phenomenon. Apparently, it’s called “The Find” and according to a story she found in The Detroit Free Press, Target is selling ultra-luxury goods in a select number of Target stores on a trial basis. The story says Target is “keeping mum” about the details, but they’re hoping to surprise us every time we walk into the store. Well, they got me. I’m surprised. I’m still not going to drop that much on a purse just because it’s right there where I buy my frozen pizzas. However, I was surprised enough to blog about it.