Why Are There Big, Red Spheres Outside Target Stores?

They're not just there for the aesthetic.

Photo by John Greim/Getty Images.

With over 1,800 stores across North America, Target has set itself up to become the second largest discount retailer in North America, second only to Walmart. Maybe it's because customers can't buy just one thing at Target or that the retailer has so much to offer — either way, the store has made a splash.

Target is known for its bright red bullseye and the adorable white bull terrier that is the star of its commercials and the face of the brand. But have you ever been on a Target run and noticed those big red spheres outside of the store? They may look like a decorative object meant to fit the aesthetic of the bright red retailer, but those spheres actually serve an important purpose.

Those big, red balls in front of many Target stores are called bollards, and they are there for customers' safety. By placing the two-ton concrete balls at the storefront, it makes it harder for cars to drive onto the curb and through the doors — looking nice is just an added bonus.

Target's bollards became popular in 2014 when an Alabama couple went viral for posting daily selfies with them using the hashtag #TargetBalling. For 365 days the couple went to Target and found a way to creatively take a picture with the ball — like turning it into a Blow Pop or dressing it up to look like a turkey.

Even though the bollards are meant to keep customers safe from parking lot accidents, the concrete balls have proved to be dangerous in their own way.

In 2016, a New Jersey mom sued Target for $1.6 million after her 5-year-old son fell off one of the balls and was seriously injured. In the suit, she said the bollards are a "nuisance that attracts children to play" on top of them.

Additionally, in 2011, Target dressed up the bollards to look like beach balls as part of the brand's summer campaign. They promptly removed the covers days later after customers were concerned children would try to kick them. And in 2017, a woman filed a lawsuit against Target after one of the bollards broke loose and hit her car.


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