Bronx Target Debut Packs More Food into Less Space

Last Updated Jul 27, 2009 11:37 AM EDT

Target is improvising when it comes to food, and a new store in the Bronx is evidence to that effect.

One among 23 new Target locations, it is in the group of smallest stores debuting, yet the Bronx Target store contains more food than the expanded pantry general merchandise format the company was rolling out until just a few months ago, before it announced what it now refers to as an expanded food format. The prior expanded pantry format had about 100 frozen and refrigerated food doors operating in the food section and no fresh meat or produce. The Bronx store has about 135 frozen and refrigerated food doors up and running in the food section and fresh produce both in floor displays and across several of those refrigerated doors. No fresh meat was in evidence during a store visit yesterday. Thus, Target has modified its latest prototype to create a configuration for smaller stores such the Bronx location. A Target spokesperson confirmed that other smaller general merchandise stores in the latest new store roll out are similarly modified.

The Bronx unit is also unique among Target's urban operations. The retailer debuted a specifically urban store format in New York early this decade with a store built into a landmark former Macy's location in the Rego Park section of Queens. The store was a reduced-size operations that included a scaled back but carefully merchandised pantry that emphasized quick meal products such as frozen pizzas for commuters stopping by on the way home from work. Target built on that original urban concept with a store in Brooklyn opened just a little more than a year ago. Located near the campus of Brooklyn College, the unit included an enlarged café that overlooked the surrounding neighborhood and was designed as a meeting place for both residents and students, one laid out in a manner conspicuously similar to the cafe seating offered at a Whole Foods operating across the river on Manhattan's Houston Street.

Both of those previous New York urban Targets scaled back certain departments such as automotive in two-floor configurations. The Rego Park store was drastically scaled back in size from the Targets that typically were opening at the time, the Brooklyn store much less so. The Bronx Target, however, not only includes a food section on a scale near that of the new, most edibles-dense configuration the retailer offers but also departs from the latest layout concept for general merchandise suburban stores in that products are densely displayed in relatively high merchandising fixtures. In the tight, tall aisles, the Bronx Target resembles other of the company's urban stores. Still, the layout provides something much closer to the full range of merchandise than some previous urban Targets did, and all on one shopping level.

Smaller general merchandise format stores, each about 127,000 square feet, also opened in Kona, Hawaii, Warren, Mich., and Cheltenham, Pa. The format was developed to provide a blend of everyday essentials including household products, electronics, clothing, and an assortment of food and seasonal merchandise. These stores also offer amenities including Starbucks, Target Cafés and Target Pharmacy. A total of 17 of the new Targets fall under the heading of general merchandise stores with expanded food, with stores located in Vista, Calif., Lisbon, Conn., Spring Hill, Fla., West Melbourne, Fla., Cedar Falls, Iowa, Hammond, La., Greenland, N.H., Chili, N.Y., Exeter Township, Pa., Hanover Township, Pa., Lower Nazareth, Pa., West Pottsgrove Township, Pa., Huntsville, Texas, Hampton, Va., Las Vegas, Martinsburg, W.Va., and Waukesha, Wis. Running 135,000 square feet, the expanded food stores include a more open, easier to peruse layout than had been the case particularly with expanded pantry and urban units, while featuring food additions including basic fresh produce, fresh meat and bakery goods.

In addition to the general merchandise format stores, Target also added two supercenters, one each in Murrieta, Calif., and Wylie, Texas. Of course, SuperTarget stores offer comprehensive one-stop shopping, featuring a full range of groceries and perishables and, in the case of the two new units, run about 186,000 square feet.

One thing immediately obvious is that Target didn't maintain the ratio of one-third supercenters in its latest round of openings, although an autumn debut season will soon begin and may boost the proportion. Target plans on opening 70 to 75 stores in the current fiscal year all told. In 2008, the company opened 114 total stores including 29 new SuperTarget locations. The company entered it 48th state, Alaska, last year and, with a three-store opening plan, initiated operations in Hawaii this year. As of Sunday, Target operated 1,719 stores in 49 states.