MUNDANE MYSTERIES: What Are Those Big Red Balls At Target For?

Target’s got some of the strongest brand recognition going in the retail world. Their name is reinforced by their red & white logo (literally a target), which also happens to be painted around the eye of their mascot, a Bull Terrier named (appropriately enough) “Bullseye”. So, it would seem like those giant red concrete spheres out in front of Target’s brick-&-mortar stores are just another form of Target making itself easily recognizable (since they look like the dot at the center of their logo). But, they’re actually there for your safety (as well as for branding).

Those red balls are called “bollards”. The word bollards mainly refers to the metal or wooden posts along the edge of a wharf on a harbor for sailors to have something around which they could tie their mooring lines. These days, though, bollards can also describe similar posts in front of buildings, which help with keeping distracted drivers from rolling right into the doors. Most places install more traditionally shaped bollards, but Target isn’t most business. They went with giant red balls. They’re not the only business, however, that got creative with their bollards; some baseball stadiums also feature spherical bollards, painted to look like baseballs.

While Target’s bollards are meant to keep shoppers safe from parking lot car accidents, thosee bright red spheres can actually be dangerous on their own, albeit in a different way. Back in May of 2016, a mom in New Jersey sued Target for $1.6 million after her 5-year-old son fell off of one of the bollards there, which shattered his elbow & required surgery in the hopes of stemming long-term damage to his range of motion. The following year, another woman filed a lawsuit after one of the 2-ton bollards broke loose and hit her car.

For the most part, though, when used correctly they’re both safe & safety-encouraging. But, things can go wrong sometimes. The road to you-know-where is paved with good intentions…and rogue bollards, apparently.

Got a Mundane Mystery you’d like solved? Send me a message via social media (@AndyWebbRadioVoice), or shoot me an email at [email protected].