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Target gives small shops mass appeal

BY Gail Hoffer

MINNEAPOLIS — Target is bringing the experience of small, independent shops to the masses with its next design partnership, “The Shops at Target.”

Launching May 6 for a six-week run in all Target stores and online, “The Shops at Target” will provide customers with the feel of visiting some of the world’s most unique boutiques without having to travel beyond their nearest Target store.

The series will begin with five U.S. specialty stores: The Candy Store, Cos Bar, Polka Dog Bakery, Privet House and The Webster. According to a Target press release, the collections will include nearly 400 exclusive products ranging in price from $1 to $159.99. (Click here to view a video describing each store and its partnership with Target.)

“One of the reasons our guests love shopping at Target is our design partnerships. They create excitement and leave even the most loyal Target shoppers wondering what we’ll do next,” said, Brian Robinson, director of fashion and design partnerships, in a press statement. “With The Shops at Target, we’re building on that sense of discovery by offering our guests a chance to experience one-of-a-kind specialty stores and boutiques through collections that have been specifically tailored to their wants and needs.”

Robinson noted at a press event Thursday that Target purposefully focused on shops outside of New York City and Los Angeles in order to bring lesser-known shops to Target’s customers.

Rather than trying to change the stores’ to fit Target’s model, or redesigning Target to fit the stores, Target said it worked with the owners to create store-within-a-store concepts that capture the essence of the boutiques without compromising Target’s sensibilities.

This sentiment was echoed by Polka Dog Bakery co-owner Rober Van Sickle, who told Retailing Today that “working with Target was a very collaborative process, and (he and and co-owner Deb Gregg) were allowed to do what they wanted with the store.” A freedom, Van Sickle noted, not often allotted with other big-box partnerships.

According to Robinson, this level of cooperation was key to making the design series “an utter celebration of these shops,” and giving the owners the chance to bring their signature store experience to Target customers.

For The Candy Store owners, Diane and Brian Campbell, this means eliciting that feeling of nostalgia when customers see their favorite childhood treats. Diane Campbell said she wants visitors to her Target store to feel like a kid in a candy store, and believes people will react with pure joy.

As with its other design partnerships, Target expects “The Shops” to deliver spikes in demand on its website. Stacia Andersen, SVP merchandising for home, assured press that the retailer’s Web team is in place and that they learned a great deal from the unprecedented popularity of its Missoni collection.

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Giant Eagle opens fifth Market District store

BY Michael Johnsen

PITTSBURGH — Giant Eagle on Thursday unveiled its fifth Market District location in five years — and its first in Pittsburgh’s North Hills suburbs.

The newly expanded 90,000-sq.-ft. location is celebrating a grand opening with in-store demonstration and autograph signing appearances by food celebrities, including Bravo Network "Top Chef" competitor Mike Isabella, Food Network "Ask Aida" host Aida Mollenkamp and Master Chef Martin Yan. Additionally, TLC Network’s “Cake Boss” Buddy Valastro will be on hand to unveil a larger-than-life cake he and his team created.

“The opening of the new Market District in the Township of Pine is a milestone for our company," stated spokesman Rob Borella. “When customers visit this new store, they will enjoy a world-class shopping and dining experience all in one place, bursting with amazing food from 19 countries around the world, combined with food expertise with everything from daily demonstrations to celebrity chef appearances and interactive events.”

The Market District format was first introduced in the Pittsburgh market in 2006. Giant Eagle has since taken the banner to Columbus, Ohio.

For a video tour of the store, shot by Giant Eagle, click here.

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Walgreens announces consecutive quarterly dividend No. 318

BY Michael Johnsen

DEERFIELD, Ill. — Walgreens on Thursday declared a regular quarterly dividend of 22.5 cents per share, a 28.6% increase over the year-ago dividend. The dividend is payable March 12, 2012, to shareholders of record Feb. 17, 2012.

Walgreens has paid a dividend in 317 straight quarters (more than 79 years) and has raised its dividend for 36 consecutive years. Over the last five years, Walgreens’ annual dividend rate has increased from 31 cents per share to 90 cents per share, resulting in a compound annual growth rate of 23.8%.

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