The "Target Effect" is almost an inside joke among fans of our illustrious hometown retailer: You go to the store for laundry detergent ... and end up buying a cart full of stuff.

Fortunately, we've uncovered a way to buy Target merch at steep discounts, via a website so secret that the retailer's own employees don't know about it.

Our discovery started with an online search for a blazer that local designer Houston White created for Target a few years ago, now long gone from stores. We found it on eBay, from a seller called Bullseye Deals. The blazer originally sold for $48. Here, it was just $14.99, described as new with tags. "Click." Into the virtual cart it went.

The seller, which uses a red-and-white bull for its logo, also listed tens of thousands of items for sale: sandals, sweaters, Wi-Fi routers, hair dryers, throw pillows, toys and fry pans. Items ranged from $5 T-shirts to $500 robot vacuums. There were staples such as sheet sets and toilet paper. But also niche goods, including snowshoes, velvet dining chairs and men's kelly green faux-leather pants.

We noticed that many of the brands — Threshold home goods, Cat & Jack kids' clothing — were Target's own. And the product photos looked a lot like those on Target's website. And when our item arrived, the shipping address on the package was just down the street from a distribution center in Franklin, Ind.

A Bullseye Deals customer service representative confirmed our suspicion that much of what it sells is Target's surplus inventory, or items that have been discontinued or returned. Most items are brand-new, the representative explained, though some packages may have been opened or may be missing tags. (If you're not satisfied, Bullseye Deals has a 30-day return policy.)

Target corporate communications staff confirmed that the retailer sells extra inventory, in bulk, to a third-party that specializes in reselling surplus goods. This is a common practice in the retail industry, known as "reverse logistics," or "reverse supply chain," which involves recouping as much value as possible from unsold or returned products. And since online purchasing has pushed retail return rates up to about 15%, the salvage business will likely continue to grow.

Most items on Bullseye Deals are priced at 40-70% off retail, cheaper than Target's clearance prices. For example, we saw a few skirts and dresses on local Target store clearance racks for $20-$30 that were selling for $10-$15 on Bullseye Deals.

The cheapest spot to find the retailer's wares has long been what local bargain shoppers call "Salvation Army Target," the Minneapolis Warehouse District thrift store that often carries donated Target goods. It's a bit hit-or-miss, but most items sell for just a few bucks.

We asked Lisa Stockert, who runs the website Twin Cities Frugal Mom, to peruse Bullseye Deals and share her impressions. She said she appreciated the seller's volume of items, discounted prices, free shipping and consistently positive feedback. Though she wouldn't use the site if she needed something urgently, or for gifts (due to opened boxes), she liked the idea of saving money on merchandise of essentially the same quality as what's in Target stores.

"There are other places I've seen where you can buy less-than-perfect items — even some thrift stores list many items online — but this has the widest selection of high-quality items I've seen," she noted.

Allison Kaplan, co-host of FM107′s "Shop Girls" and editor of Twin Cities Business, also weighed in on the site. She said that Target fanatics would likely recognize the brands and appreciate the significant savings, but they shouldn't mistake the experience of shopping Bullseye Deals for the "Target Run" ritual, with its Starbucks-in-hand, impulse purchases.

"It's designed for true deal seekers who love the hunt, are willing to spend time scrolling through hundreds of products and can live with the uncertainty of what that 'open box' might hold," she said. "If you're shopping for something specific, it's worth a search of the Bullseye page to see if it pops up — and easy to get hooked in the process."

So far, minimal online chatter about Bullseye Deals mostly comes from collectors seeking niche or limited-release items, such as vinyl records, K-pop trading cards and action figures. But the site can be a first stop for shoppers seeking whatever cheap-chic items they're used to tossing in those big red carts, from potted plants to softball gloves to the latest Stanley tumbler.