When Apartment Guide recently posted the "10 Best Cities for Target lovers in America," many Minnesotans probably assumed that the Twin Cities would rise to the top. After all, we're home base to the nationwide discounter that operates more than 1,800 stores. 

Not according to Apartment Guide. The website took an unscientific look at the number of Target stores in cities with populations of more than 100,000 and at least three Target stores. It used 8 million business listings to count the number of Target locations with a mailing address in each city. It took a city's population from the 2017 census and its number of Target stores to determine the number of Target stores per capita.  

At least Minneapolis landed in the top 10. It came in at No. 8 with nine Targets. That's about one Target store per nearly 47,000 residents.

St. Paul fared better. The capital city has fewer Targets at seven, according to Apartment Guide, but with a smaller population (306,621), it averages one Target per about 44,000 residents. That had St. Paul besting Target's headquarters city, putting it No. 4 on the list. 

Nabbing the top spot is Knoxville, Tenn., with one Target per about 37,500 residents. Pittsburgh; Allentown, Penn.; Columbia, S.C.; Orlando; Fullerton, Calif.; McAllen ,Texas; and Cincinnati rounded out the list of 10. 

Atlanta-based Apartment Guide also supplied the average rent for a one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartment per city. Is that supposed to suggest a correlation between apartment rent and the number of nearby Targets?

Brian Carberry, managing editor for Apartment Guide, said no. "There's no correlation other than interest level."

Target representatives were pleased by the attention.

"Whether shopping in one of our stores or online at Target.com, we aim to be a good neighbor," said Target spokesman Joshua Thomas. "We're flattered that proximity to a Target store is at the top of the list for some home hunters." 

It's also likely to please Target that Apartment Guide has not yet done a similar post about Walmart. "Walmart is on our list to do, but we chose Target first because of its cult and hipster following," Carberry said. 

Anyone could quibble about Apartment Guide's methodology. Minneapolis does not have nine Target stores in the city proper -- only five: Dinkytown, East Lake Street, Uptown, the Quarry in Northeast and Nicollet Mall. St. Paul only has three in the city proper: Suburban Avenue, Midway and Highland Park.

Digging deeper into the pile of puff, should the small format stores in Uptown, Highland Park and Dinkytown be included?  

What Target stores did Apartment Guide count in its Twin City totals?

The list the company provided required some decoding. Each of the 16 stores wasn't an address or a ZIP code but rather its longitude and latitude. Converting them to addresses required the helpful Latlong website and about 15 minutes of typing in the data. 

As expected, the extra stores are located in the suburbs. The Minneapolis count included stores in Bloomington, Coon Rapids, Crystal and Fridley. The St. Paul stores included West St. Paul, Woodbury, Apple Valley and Vadnais Heights. 

Without the suburban stores would Target's dominance in the Twin Cities fall from the top 10 or even the top 20? It's doubtful, because the methodology is likely to have included suburban stores in all the metro areas around the country.   

Would Minneapolis and St. Paul have topped the list if Apartment Guide had combined the locations as the Twin Cities? No. We'd be No. 5 with 16 Targets with a combined population of 728,962, or one Target per 45,559 residents. Carberry said the guide never combines cities such as Dallas and Fort Worth, or Washington, D.C., and Baltimore. 

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