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Target will soon be in all 50 states with store in works for holdout Vermont

Target has been around since 1962. It has more than 1,800 stores in places far away from its Minnesota headquarters like Hawaii and Alaska.

But until now, it couldn't say that it was in all 50 U.S. states. There has been one holdout: Vermont.

That will finally change. The retailer announced this week that it will open a 60,000-square foot store in South Burlington, Vermont in October 2018.

The announcement was big news in the state where some residents would take the ferry across Lake Champlain to shop at the Target in Plattsburgh, New York.

So what took Target so long to get to Vermont? 

I called up Kevin Dorn, South Burlington's city manager, to get some answers. He happens to be a Minnesota native, having grown up in the small town of Springfield in the southwest part of the state. So he knows all about Target.

"Target has wanted to be in Vermont for the better part of a decade," he said, adding that he used to work for the state and was involved in prior discussions with Target on previous attempts. "But the company didn't want to go through a long contracted dispute over locations."

In Vermont, there's often a long and arduous process to build new stores, especially big-box ones, since it has strict development regulations and residents are often skeptical of big development projects.

"There's an open space ethic that is very strong," he said.

Still, Walmart has managed to open a handful of stores in the state. Other big retailers have, too.

In 2012, Target tried to open one of its big-box stores in Williston, but residents balked at the size of it.

But this time around, Target was successful because two factors converged. First, a Bon-Ton store in South Burlington is going to close. Target is going to take that space, saving it from some of the extra regulatory hurdles of building a new store. Second, the retailer has been opening smaller stores that could fit into that space. This store will be about half the size of one of its typical big-box stores.

"Target has found the right opportunity to open our first store in Vermont," Mark Schindele, a Target executive, said in a statement. "Our expansion to the Green Mountain state is long overdue and we are thrilled to meet our newest neighbors and community when our South Burlington store opens in 2018."

For his part, Dorn is excited to have Target come to South Burlington because when he and his family travel, his wife and kids often want to stop at Target.

"In many cases, we've planned our trip around going to a Target," he said. "I've probably been to most Targets in New England now."

Others seem excited by it, too.

"This is the first good news I've heard all month," one person tweeted.

But a reporter for Vermont Public Radio found some less enthusiastic responses when he queried residents about the impending arrival of Target.

"Another man screamed repeatedly while shaking his head," the reporter tweeted.

Target CEO says he appreciated Gov. Dayton reaching out about Amazon bid

Target CEO Brian Cornell said he’s appreciative that Gov. Mark Dayton reached out to let him know about the approach the state would take in its pitch to lure Amazon’s second headquarters.

Cornell made the comments during a media briefing with reporters in New York at the retailer’s new Herald Square store set to open Friday.

Dayton told reporters a month ago that he spoke to Cornell and the CEO of Best Buy and that both expressed concern about using tax dollars to attract Amazon, arguably both retailers’ largest competitor.

“I want to continue to see great economic prosperity in the area, but I want to make sure our tax dollars are properly deployed,” Cornell said Thursday, noting that he’s a Minneapolis resident. “On behalf of our shareholders, I want to make sure we get the same benefits as any other company.”

When asked how he would feel if the Twin Cities landed Amazon’s second headquarters, Cornell said he’s focused on Target.

While other states are preparing incentive packages worth $1 billion or more to attract Amazon’s second headquarters, Minnesota officials confirmed this week that the state’s bid spells out incentives of $3 million from existing programs.

Dayton said Tuesday that Minnesota deliberately focused on Minnesota’s workforce, educational opportunities and transportation systems.

The bids for the second headquarters, which could one day employ 50,000 people, were due to Seattle-based Amazon on Thursday.

 

Kavita Kumar • 612-673-4113