Target opens a new location on the Oakland-Emeryville border
on March 3, 2011
Straddling the border of Oakland and Emeryville, a portion of 40th Street thick with retail stores is welcoming a new neighbor this week. Target, the nation’s second largest discount retailer after Wal-Mart, will officially open the doors of its newest store this Sunday.
The store’s opening marks a significant addition to the map of “big box” retailers in the East Bay. Before this week, the nearest Target to the city was in Albany, about eight miles away from downtown Oakland. The nearest Wal-Mart, near the Coliseum, is seven miles away from downtown. While the existing stores are accessible to Oakland residents by car, the new Target stands to increase access to the store among those who rely on public transit.
At a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Tuesday, leaders from both Oakland and Emeryville welcomed Target to their cities. Oakland Mayor Jean Quan said that after her city was “ignored” by national retail chains like Target for years, she welcomes the additional tax revenue the store will bring to Oakland, which is splitting the income with the city of Emeryville. “Buying just 25 percent more [retail products] in Oakland could return $10 million” to the city, Quan said, which would eliminate a significant slice of Oakland’s $40 million budget deficit.
In addition to tax revenue, more than 300 jobs have been generated by the store. Target spokesperson Donna Egan said that 90 percent of the store’s employees are residents of Oakland and Emeryville.
Kayla Howard, a sales assistant at the new store, is one such employee. Howard, who lives in Oakland, came early to her shift on Tuesday to attend the ribbon-cutting off-duty. Having recently turned 23, she said that Target’s opening was “the best birthday gift ever.” After spending part of 2010 unemployed, she is grateful to be working and, as a “recovering shopaholic,” she said she intends to shop at the store as well.
At the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Target’s corporate representatives went out of their way to demonstrate the store’s connection to Oakland. Performers at the event included the Learning Without Limits Elementary School Drum Line and the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir, and Target Vice President Joe Katruzi boasted that “you will not find a better selection of Oakland A’s” merchandise in the area.
The new store is part of a larger Target strategy to increase its presence in urban areas. In 2012, San Francisco will be home to one of two prototype “City Target” stores, which will try to reach downtown shoppers with smaller stores with a focus on smaller merchandise like food and clothes, downplaying larger items like furniture. The other City Target will open in Minneapolis, where Target was founded.
At the ribbon-cutting, Quan said she was impressed by a multi-story Target she saw on a visit to Minneapolis, and would like to see a similar store in downtown Oakland.
The Oakland store will also include a relatively novel checkout system. Instead of having to guess which checkout line will move the fastest, which Egan said often leaves customers “victim” to slow lines, shoppers at the new store will queue up in two large columns, and will be directed by a ceiling-suspended television to cash registers as they become available. While this system is new to the Bay Area, it has been in use in high-traffic grocery stores like Whole Foods’ New York City locations for several years.
At 140,000 square feet, the Oakland Target is not as large as a Super Target, a version of the store more prevalent in southern California that includes a standard retail selection alongside a full grocery store, but like many new Targets, it will include a large grocery section, including fresh produce, dairy and meat. Egan said this will be a boon to customers who value “one-stop shopping.”
Although the store’s official Grand Opening will not take place until March 6, the store technically opened for business on Wednesday. After Tuesday’s ribbon-cutting, Katruzi invited the assembled group of employees’ family members, community leaders, and members of the press to explore the store. “The best way to take advantage of this partnership [between Target and Oakland and Emeryville] is to increase the tax revenue,” he said. “So go shopping, everybody!”
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