Target Time: New merchandise and a little 'Gossip Girl'

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The end of July brings a slew of Target store openings, and that means first pick on new designer lines and back to school merchandise.

I've learned a lot of shopping tricks during my years covering retail as a business reporter. One of them being the best times to shop for new merchandise. At Target, this occurs three times a year when the retailer opens new stores: March, July and October.

Target is one of the most disciplined and regimented retail chains in existence and the new store schedule is no exception. Some will "soft open" a bit sooner, but nationally July 26 is the grand opening date. If you live near a new store, it's a perfect time to shop.

You may never see a cleaner, better stocked store than a brand new Target. And, you may never again get first dibs on the chain's more exclusive apparel and home goods partnerships. This year it includes theDror Collection classified as "Back to College," and new apparel. Here's a sneak peak at Anna Sui's collection for Target scheduled to hit stores in September based on the CW's Gossip Girl with four collections or "looks" inspired by the four characters on the show: Selena, Blair, Jenny and Vanessa.

Even if you don't live near a Target, you'll benefit from the timing. New merchandise gets distributed at roughly the same time and store resets for seasonal stuff are all on the same schedule. Pay attention to employee activity in these departments. Being among the first to shop a reset has plenty of benefits I once watched while associates begin stocking Global Bazaar merchandise, a between season home decor program the retailer stopped doing a couple years ago. All these special promotions come in very limited supply. On this occasion, there were just three of a large sunburst style mirror. As each was stacked neatly against the wall, myself and another savvy shopper waited, then pounced, leaving just one mirror behind.

A swing past the display on my way to checkout a few minutes later revealed the last one had been scooped up. That sunburst mirror was in stock for maybe 30 minutes. Not everything is in such limited supply, or will be met with such interest. But for the best selection, now may be the time to shop. That mirror looks amazing over my fireplace.
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