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An inside look at top retailers and the consumers they covet

Z Gallerie home furnishings opening adds glitz to Galleria in Edina

What retail specialty makes up the majority of tenant space in Edina's Galleria? It's not apparel. 

With the opening of Z Gallerie on Friday, more than half (51%) of the luxury center's tenants sell home furnishings. The Gardena, California-based home furnishings retailer brings a dose of glitz and glamour less prominent in Galleria's stores such as Crate & Barrel, Pottery Barn and Arhaus. 

It's not all glitz. About a third of the store is bling, but there's also a relaxed aesthetic and a modern one, said Cathy Jones, Z Gallerie's district manager from the Midwest region. "This is fashion for your home," she said.

The selection is a mixture of art, accessories and furniture artfully curated so that the consumer can look at a display wall and pick and choose from an eclectic mix of pillows, vases, art, accent furniture, and throws in complementary colors. "You can redecorate a room just by looking at one wall in the store," said Jones. 

The art selection, called the gallerie, is the essence of the 30-plus year old company which is named after the founders, the Zeiden family. Three Zeiden siblings started the business in Los Angeles as a poster shop. In the current selection, framed art, nearly all exclusive to the store, ranges from $50 to $900. Select pieces of original art are sold on Zgallerie.com

Prices for the sofas, chairs, bedroom sets and occasional tables sit firmly in the moderate range rather than luxury with most occasional chairs starting at $700 and sectionals starting at $1,700.

"We design exclusive decor and accessories with value in mind," said Gordon Andahl, public relations manager at Z Gallerie. 

The new store is located in the Galleria's expansion made possible when Barnes & Noble moved to the lower level. Other stores in the expansion include Cov Restaurant, Starbucks, Soft Surroundings, Roe Wolfe, Porsche, Griffin Gallery, and Big Island Swim & Surf. Chico's recently relocated there and Scheherazade Jewelers and Shinola will join the expansion soon.  

Analyst gives Target's Drive Up service in Twin Cities a thumbs up

As Target prepares to roll out its click-and-collect Drive Up service to hundreds of stores this year, one analyst whose team trialed it has given it a thumbs up for its speed and convenience.

“This (is a) delightful service that will gain traction, and is something that Amazon can’t offer today,” Gene Munster, a venture capitalist and tech analyst with Minneapolis-based Loup Ventures wrote in a recent research note.

Munster’s team tested the service 10 times at two different Twin Cities locations. While one order for body wash took over an hour to be ready for pickup, the rest of the orders were ready within 16 minutes.

And, most importantly, he said, it took only an average of 1 minute and 18 seconds from the time of parking to departing with orders loaded in the car. That breaks down to 35 seconds from the time of parking to an employee walking to the car with the order (Target says it's goal is 3 minutes, but has been doing it in less than 2 minutes) and then 43 seconds for the worker to scan the customer’s barcode and load the items into the car.

Target started testing Drive Up at 50 stores around the Twin Cities last fall. Last week, company executives said at an investors meeting that they will expand the service to about 1,000 of Target’s 1,800 stores this year.

Here’s a quick primer on how it works: Customers place orders via the Target app to be picked up at a specific Target store. The app then notifies customers when those items are ready, usually in less than an hour. Customers pull into a designated Drive Up parking space outside the store and an employee loads the order into their car.

The service is initially only available through iOS version of the app, but is coming to Android next month.

Target says it's received overwhelmingly positive feedback about the service so far. About half of the customers who have tried it have used it again, according to the company.

It's especially popular with shoppers with young children who like the convenience of not having to leave their car. Diapers and paper towels have been the most ordered items. Bulky items such as bottled water and soda have also been popular.

One potential drawback though for some customers is that while about 200,000 items are eligible for Drive Up, it does not currently include fresh grocery items such as milk and bananas, which often are the reasons tha send people to the store for a quick fill-in trip.

Groceries have been a key element of Walmart's curbside pickup service that it has been rapidly expanding in the last year. It now has 1,200 online grocery pickup locations outside its stores and is planning to add another 1,000 this year. Other regional grocers are also expanding click-and-collect services.

In any case, Munster thinks Target's Drive Up service is another reason why Amazon may want to acquire Target. He created quite a bit of buzz with a bold prediction earlier this year that Amazon will buy Target given their high customer overlap and Amazon's interest in growing its physical footprint as evidenced by its takeover of Whole Foods.

“Target’s Drive Up service – leveraging assets that only brick and mortar can offer – is a good example of the innovation necessary to compete in retail, which makes Target more appealing to Amazon,” Munster wrote.

I asked Target CEO Brian Cornell recently about the speculation that Amazon might buy Target. He joked that it was “clearly a slow news cycle” when the idea led to a lot of chatter.

In any case, while not commenting directly on the conjecture, he said the it's another sign that his strategy to focus on stores as well as online is the right one.

“Digital alone will not meet the needs of the American consumer,” he said.