This is What the Big Red Spheres Outside of Target Are For

Updated: May 21, 2023

While at first glance they appear to be an aesthetic feature to accompany the big, bold, red bullseye logo of the brand, those big red spheres outside Target stores actually serve a much more important purpose.

The second-largest retailer in North America, Minneapolis-based Target Corp. operates roughly 2,000 stores and Target.com, as of May 2023. Having revolutionized retail by adopting a “cheap and chic” strategy a generation ago, the company has had immense success. Whether you make a least one Target run every week or drop into one only on an as-needed basis, you have certainly come across the big red spheres situated outside the storefront.

While at first glance they appear to be an aesthetic feature to accompany the big, bold, red bullseye logo of the brand, those big red spheres outside Target stores actually serve a much more important purpose.

What Are The Red Spheres at Target For?

Target has been using red giant concrete balls outside of its stores for several years. The giant concrete balls, called bollards, serve as safety precautions to protect the storefront and pedestrians from vehicle collisions. The specific timeframe for when Target implemented red bollards may vary depending on the location and individual store renovations.

What are Bollards

Bollards come in different sizes, shapes, and materials to suit specific needs and requirements. They can be fixed or removable, depending on the intended purpose and flexibility needed. They serve various purposes, including safety, security, and traffic management.

  • Traffic Control/Security: Bollards are often placed at entrances, exits, or intersections to guide traffic flow, prevent unauthorized vehicle access, or designate pedestrian-only zones.
  • Bike Lane Separation: Bollards are sometimes placed along bike lanes to separate them from vehicular traffic, providing a dedicated space for cyclists.
  • Decorative or Aesthetic Purposes: In some cases, bollards are designed to enhance the visual appeal of an area. They can be customized with various colors, shapes, and materials to complement the surrounding architecture

Controversies

The spheres have been the subject of controversy for years. In 2016, a New Jersey mom hit Target with a $1.6 million lawsuit claiming they are a “nuisance that attracts children to play” on top of them. Her then five-year-old son was playing on top of a ball when he fell and shattered his right elbow. And in 2017, a woman, whose vehicle was struck by a runaway 2-ton concrete ball outside a New Jersey Target store, sued the retailer.

People have also made light of the concrete spheres. In 2014, the giant red spheres went viral after a prankster started taking funny selfies with them under the hashtag TargetBalling. And, a 2015 thread on TheBreakRoom.org has plenty of funny and controversial input on the bollards outside of Target.