The Target store on E. Lake Street in Minneapolis reopens Wednesday for the first time since shutting down in May following riots that destroyed the business and many others along the normally bustling commercial corridor.
The multimillion dollar reopening restores some normalcy to a community hard hit by the civil unrest that broke out all along Lake Street in the wake of George Floyd’s killing at the hands of Minneapolis police.
Target workers early Tuesday were busy nestling melons and bananas into place, adjusting lights, installing the last ceiling tiles and monitoring several newly expanded departments in advance of a limited soft opening later in the day before an official reopening Wednesday.
“The team is really excited about opening this store, providing for the community and to have continuing relationships with guests and community members who flocked to the store to help clean up immediately following the riots,” said Cephas Williams Jr., the group vice president at Target responsible for the stores in the Minneapolis area. “We are humbled and grateful. And we want to help the community rebuild. So today is [just] the beginning.”
In the preceding months, store managers listened to store employees and surveyed neighbors while rebuilding a store that was destroyed down to the studs because of looting, vandalism and sprinkler damage. Target employees worked closely with the Neighborhood Development Center, Lake Street Council, Latino Economic Development Center and others to make sure that the store’s relaunch would serve to heal the community.
While Target’s Midway store in St. Paul reopened a week after it was damaged by the May riots, the destruction of the Lake Street store was far more extensive and took longer to rebuild.
Hundreds of thousands of products had to be replaced during a rebuilding process that cost Target Corp. “millions” of dollars, said Target spokesman Joe Poulos.
Today, the reopened building showcases new murals from local artists from the Juxtaposition Arts that depict the journey of Target’s neighborhood since spring.
The building sports new windows and an additional entrance closer to Lake Street and the light rail, installed in response to local feedback. Also new: additional parking spaces for online pickup orders.
Inside, the produce section offers a wider array of fruits, spices and grab-and-go options. The CVS pharmacy is closer to the front door. And a new and larger beauty section includes five new displays of products aimed at guests with textured hair. The toy section features an expansive and diverse doll selection.
“The assortment of the dolls we have are Hispanic, and African, [blonde] and African American. The store really expanded its [offerings]. When you walk through that store, we wanted to make sure that every guest felt welcome,” Williams said. Target aims to create a space where the Lake Street community “sees itself reflected,” be it the ads and art in the store to the products on the shelves, he said.
Williams credited the store team for the reopening. “They worked extremely hard to get the store rebuilt. And they were willing to listen and hear the voice of the community,” that led to so many changes. The Lake Street store is the first of nearly 1,870 Targets in the country to carry the Black Excellence clothing line designed by Minneapolis barber and apparel maker Houston White.
Melanie Majors, executive director of the Longfellow Community Council, said Target solicited input from neighborhood groups and shared its plans of its redesign with them. “One of the statements Target has made over and over again is they’re not rebuilding a fortress,” she said. “I think that’s really important. They’re building a much more attractive store.”
While community groups felt it was difficult in the past to connect with Target, they now feel encouraged they have more access to the store’s managers.
“That’s huge for everybody,” Majors said.
Henry Jimenez, executive director of the Latino Economic Development Center, said the Target Foundation financially helped other businesses damaged along Lake Street. Many are Target customers, so the support goes a long way. “I hope everyone shows the same concern and says, ‘How can we continue to support this community?’ ” he said.
More than 50% of Target’s Lake Street store’s hourly workers come from the neighborhood and are people of color, as are 88% of the store leaders. Receiving input from the community residents was critical in decisionmaking, said Williams, who worked with 200 employees from the store this summer to hand out essential goods to residents who suddenly had nowhere to buy milk and bread and diapers. The Cub Foods store next door was also badly damaged and closed.
Cub now operates a tent store next door while it rebuilds.
In the same strip mall as the Target store, a Dollar Tree, Planet Fitness and Minnesota Transitions Charter School remain boarded up. Across Lake Street on Tuesday sat the twisted remains of what was Arby’s sandwich shop.
As a result, it is rewarding to have Target reopened, said two workers Tuesday as they reviewed the progress inside the store. The changes coincide with a pandemic that brought plexiglass to cashier workcells and hand-sanitizing stations into the aisles. The rebuild also launches amid a plethora of Christmas decorations and holiday merchandise.
Staff writer Kavita Kumar contributed to this article.