First TargetExpress opens its doors in Dinkytown near U

  • Article by: KAVITA KUMAR , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 23, 2014 - 12:11 PM

The retailer’s smallest-format store opens its doors today in Dinkytown.


Target workers assembled a soft drink display case in the retailer’s first TargetExpress store, which is opening on Wednesday in Dinkytown.


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Super-sizing in retail is so yesterday. Instead, Target is going even smaller with its new store formats.

The Minneapolis-based retailer will open a 20,000-square-foot TargetExpress store in Dinkytown Wednesday, the first of its kind for Target at about a sixth of the size of traditional locations.

“We’re testing things on an ongoing basis,” said Kamau Witherspoon, Target’s senior director of store operations, while offering a sneak peek earlier this week. “This is just our latest innovation.”

The prototype feels like a drugstore along the lines of a CVS or Walgreens, but has its own Target flair with merchandise that includes groceries, bedding, smartphones — plus a healthy dose of Gophers fan gear.

After years of going big in the ­suburbs, Target is increasingly eyeing opportunities in the urban core following population growth in those areas. So far, only about 11 percent of its stores are in urban areas, but in 2012, it began testing an 80,000- to 100,000-square-foot store format called CityTarget, to appeal to the urban shopper. Now there are eight CityTargets in cities such as Chicago, San Francisco and Portland, Ore.

While Target’s bigger stores are more suited for customers who want to stock up on food and other essentials, CityTarget and TargetExpress are aimed at shoppers picking up fewer items.

“Our urban guests are on the go,” he said. “They are more focused on immediate consumption rather than stocking up. They want to get in and get out.”

It’s too early to say how many TargetExpress stores the retailer might eventually open, Witherspoon said. But Target already is planning four more locations for 2015 — one in St. Paul’s Highland Park and three in the San Francisco Bay Area.

He added that Target moved much more quickly to open the first TargetExpress location. The store took less than a year from conception to opening day, compared to about two to four years for a traditional Target store.

Beauty, but not furniture

The Dinkytown TargetExpress, which includes a pharmacy, has a subset of items sold at a typical store.

Aside from basic socks and underwear, it doesn’t have an apparel section. Nor does it have furniture or patio sets. But it does have a full-size beauty department, along with the retailer’s fairly new beauty concierge service.

Since urban customers often have smaller households and are looking to fulfill immediate needs, the store sells more single items or those in small multiples.

“We know that they don’t need a 36-pack of paper towels,” Witherspoon said.

The Dinkytown store also has a lot of grab-and-go foods and beverages as well as “meal chasers.”

“I guess that’s what the students refer to as a snack,” Witherspoon said, laughing. “So we have tons of meal chasers.”

Target’s research also showed that customers were unhappy with the long lines and uninspiring offerings of other quick-trip stores, he said.

With those concerns in mind, TargetExpress is designed to have a central check-out queue aimed at getting customers through the line faster to one of four registers. It lowered the heights of shelves so customers can more easily see the whole store. And it includes items not always found at stores of this size, such as towels and back-to-college items.

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  • TargetExpress is designed for urban shoppers who tend to buy a few items instead of loading up.

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