Target thinks it knows what the young professionals who live in Uptown want from its newest store: activewear, Starbucks and lots of groceries, especially organic varieties.
The small-format store opening Wednesday in the heart of the bustling Minneapolis neighborhood — a stone's throw from a CorePower Yoga, CycleBar and LA Fitness — includes plenty of yoga pants and jazzy sports bras from the retailer's new JoyLab brand as well as its popular C9 line.
Its Starbucks, the next nearest one being more than 10 blocks away, has a seating area where customers can recharge their phones. And even though a Cub Foods and Lunds also are close by, it will include a full lineup of groceries on par with the selection carried at its bigger suburban stores (though not as extensive, of course, as a SuperTarget).
The 21,400-square-foot store, about one-sixth the size of a typical Target store, is part of a wave of about a dozen new store openings this week for Minneapolis-based Target Corp. Also on the roster is one in high-profile Herald Square in midtown Manhattan across from Macy's flagship store, as well as locations in and around Chicago, Los Angeles and Philadelphia. All but one of the new stores opening this week, a full-size store in Honolulu, are Target's smaller-format stores.
While other traditional retailers are closing multiple locations as they struggle to adopt to online shopping, Target has been doubling down on stores through remodels and the new smaller formats.
Target opened its first small-format store in 2014 in Dinkytown near the University of Minnesota. It has since opened dozens more around the country — including one in St. Paul's Highland Park neighborhood — placing them in underserved areas such as college neighborhoods or in dense urban and suburban areas where its bigger stores wouldn't otherwise easily fit.
These smaller stores, while still relatively few in number compared with Target's 1,800 big-box stores, are part of the retailer's growth strategy. The retailer is opening 32 new stores this year, most of them with the smaller format, and is planning to ramp up the pace in the next couple of years to 40 new stores a year.
Target also has been stung as consumers increasingly shop online at Amazon.com and other websites, but Target sees an opportunity to leverage its new stores for both in-store and online shopping.
"These [smaller stores] are unlocking tremendous value," John Mulligan, Target's chief operating officer, told analysts earlier this year. "They have more than two times the sales productivity of our average store. So even with higher operating costs they generate healthy returns."
And as Kyle Kohns, a store manager, noted while giving the Star Tribune a sneak peek of the Uptown store earlier this week, people who live nearby may not want to leave their online orders sitting on their doorsteps unprotected all day while they are at work.
"So they can have it sent here and come pick it up just to make sure it's safe," she said.
The Uptown store, flanked by Lake and Lagoon avenues, has been built underneath a new, upscale apartment building with 100-plus units that opened in August. Target is leasing the space from the developer, CPM, and has decorated a model apartment it shows to prospective tenants.
Twenty-three spots in the parking garage have been reserved for Target customers.
But Kohns said she expects many customers will come to the store on foot or bike. That's one of the reasons why they made sure to offer lots of smaller items such as individual oranges instead of just whole bags of oranges.
"In these apartments, you don't have that much room [for storage] and they walk here so you don't want to carry a bunch of bags," she said.
In recognition that many people come to Uptown to shop, the store also features a small selection of Minnesota-themed shirts, glasses and other craft items made by local companies. The retailer tested a larger "Made in MN" pop-up shop at its newly remodeled store on Nicollet Mall and decided to bring it to this store after seeing positive results.
There are other local touches, too, including the murals on the walls which nod to many elements in the surrounding neighborhood — lakes, bikes, paddles, the Uptown Theater sign on Hennepin, and a record player.
The latter is a nod to the Cheapo Records store, a longtime fixture in the neighborhood, that once stood at that same spot. It was razed to make room for the $40 million mixed-use project, but still has a couple other locations around the Twin Cities.