There was this mother of one of my son’s preschool classmates (no names, please). She was that mother — the one who had to have the biggest car, fanciest house, most toys, and so on.

We all detested her.

One afternoon, as we were waiting to pick up our kids, she was talking to bunch of us about this purchase or that purchase as we gave her the tight little smiles of those who can’t get away.

But then she made a mistake: She commented about something at Wal-Mart. Then she made another mistake: She asked me about it.

“We don’t shop at Wal-Mart,” I said. “We shop at Target.” You could hear the brakes slamming on.

Ah, the power of subtext. Target is the high-end bargain store. Wal-Mart… well, Wal-Mart is the other kind. robyn_waters

Target didn’t get that caché by accident. It was a carefully, deliberately cultivated image, one brought to fruition by the keynote speaker at VAR’s 2008 Convention and Expo, Robyn Waters.

(Come on, you knew this was going to tie into VAR somehow, didn’t you?)

Anyway, here’s what Fast Company had to say about her:

It was Waters’s job to guarantee that the company’s many brands — from clothing to housewares to paper products to gardening supplies — hewed to the same high standard in all 1,249 Target stores. Overseeing a team of 120 industrial, surface, and technical designers, she drove the look and feel that caught the media’s attention and helped Target morph from dowdy Midwestern discounter to the trendy “Tar-zhay.”

She’ll be keynoting the first day of the convention, and you won’t want to miss it — Friday, September 26 at 10 a.m.