Have you ever been in a really cool shop when you're traveling and bought something that you'd never seen back home? That's the spirit behind Target's new boutiques called "The Shops at Target collections."

It's another piece in Target's brilliant marketing strategy that keeps shoppers surprised and sometimes delighted to find what's on the discounter's shelves. But this latest marketing attempt looks better in concept than in reality.

Not to rain on the whole collection--there are some cute items, including the Privet melamine dinner plates ($4) and drinking glasses ($4), which were in stock in the downtown Minneapolis store Thursday morning but are mostly out of stock online. (Here we go again.) The online selection is larger than in stores, when it's in stock. In the stores, the Polka Dot bakery items were removed from the end cap at the downtown Target because too many items had been sold, said a stocker.

Target created five vignettes placed throughout the store, mostly on end caps, under large, brown signs labeled "The shops at Target," including the Candy Shop, Cos Bar cosmetics, Polka Dot Bakery for dogs, Privet House home accessories and Webster clothing. A few pieces of the Webster clothing and Privet home furnishings seem unique. The Webster Florida-inspired clothing for women is colorful and playful. The men's line is passable, except for the white pants, which will probably languish on the clearance racks.

Has anyone ever been to any of the shops on which these collections are based? For example, the Candy Store in San Francisco? The Cos Bar in Aspen, Colo.? The Polka Dot Bakery in Boston? Privet House in Connecticut? Webster in Miami? Did Target get the inspiration right? What are your thoughts on the collection in stores or online?