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VOL. 125 | NO. 130 | Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Target Bolsters Local Presence

By Andy Meek

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Target Corp. wants more of its Memphis-area customers to be able to add beer and additional grocery items to shopping lists that already include the chain’s home accessories and latest fashions.

Target also wants to give customers here and elsewhere a better all-around shopping experience, a task that calls for everything from making store aisles more inviting to putting more of what customers want front and center.

The Minneapolis-based retailer is in the midst of a $1 billion renovation of about 340 existing stores in 2010, the effects of which can already be seen throughout Target’s Memphis footprint.

The retailer began selling beer at its 5959 Poplar Ave. store in February. And Target has applied for permits to sell beer at two more of its roughly half dozen Memphis stores – at 7697 Winchester Road and 7989 U.S. 64.

With the addition to the East Memphis store a few months ago, Target now sells beer at three of its Memphis stores, according to company spokeswoman Tammy Robertson. And it’s “exploring additional opportunities in the Memphis area.”

Beyond convenience-driven changes like that, everything from stores’ beauty sections to video game aisles is getting a tweak.

“I think it’s about becoming all things to all people,” said Danny Buring, a partner at The Shopping Center Group. “They want you to be able to come to Target and not have to go somewhere else for this or somewhere else for that.”

The electronics sections of Targets’ stores, for example, are being reshuffled to let customers have more in-store experiences with gadgets and products they might want to buy.

The new electronics department layout calls for 30 percent more space for video game sections, which allows room for more hands-on displays.

Customers at the retailer’s 475 N. Germantown Parkway store, where the changes are already in place, spent time over the weekend playing game demos on several major video game consoles.

The majority of video game titles also are now stocked on shelves down several aisles, allowing those same customers to pick them up and look them over. Before, the games were behind a case.

Meanwhile, customers at that same Cordova store who might be curious about how Amazon’s Kindle e-reader looks and feels can wander a few rows over and see it for themselves.

The Kindle displays at that Cordova store were part of a rollout of the device throughout the chain last month. Target offers a rare brick-and-mortar outlet at which to pick up Amazon’s hot electronic reading device.

Target’s grocery sections are also getting a makeover.

A customer who wanders the aisles at the Target across the street from Wolfchase Galleria will eventually notice a few rows of empty shelves and Target’s version of the old “pardon our dust” display.

“Fresh groceries coming Sept. 09,” a large, bright red sign announces. “Thank you for your patience as we remodel. We’ll soon carry an abundance of fresh fruits, veggies and meats – and all the other groceries you need, from eggs to ice cream.”

Target earlier this year filed a $2.5 million building permit with the city-county Office of Construction Code Enforcement to renovate and slightly expand its 30-year-old, 122,857-square-foot store at 601 Colonial Road in East Memphis.

The project, now under way, calls for remodeling the front entrance – adding a little more than 3,000 square feet to the store – plus bringing a new food and guest service area to the front of the store.

Stores like these are getting new food layouts with a 50 to 200 percent increase over what was there before.

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