It took a while, but this week Target will achieve a long-elusive milestone: Vermont.
After nearly a decade of scouting missions and courtship, the retailer on Wednesday will open a store in South Burlington, finally establishing footing in the state known for covered bridges, rolling hills and a distaste for large, cookie-cutter, big-box retail.
The small-format store in Vermont’s largest metro area means Target now has a location in all 50 states, bragging rights that rival Walmart claimed after a bitter battle with environmentalists in Vermont in 1995.
Target enters Vermont on much better terms, due in large part to the success of its “flexible format” store. Those stores are half the size of a typical store and allow the retailer to tailor store offerings to the local market, said Jim Hogan, Target's senior group vice president, who oversees stores across the northeast.
“We can go into cities, in dense areas; we can wind up next to train stations and in office buildings,” Hogan said. “Ten years ago, we wouldn’t have been able to do that.”
The 60,000 square foot store is a far cry from the 136,000 square foot space that the town of Williston, Vt., shot down in 2012. The new store slides into space that Bon Ton vacated, and is walking distance from the University of Vermont and close to an eclectic downtown area favored by tourists.
The Vermont location is one of eight of the small-format stores that Target will open this week, upping the nationwide tally to 83.
The store will have groceries, the usual assortment of Target goods and a Starbucks. It also will be the first store in the northeast to have a drive-up, where shoppers can order online and have their goods brought to them – in whatever mode of transport suits them.
“Come on bike, come on motorcycle,” Hogan said. “You don’t have to come into the store.”