Bullseye, the famous Target mascot, was off the clock. His work came Tuesday evening when special guests gathered for an exclusive showing of the new store.
On Wednesday, he took a backseat to the Fraser Centre Target’s first general customers. The “flexible-format,” or smaller-scale, store held a soft opening at 7 a.m. The store’s grand opening comes Sunday.
Curious college students perused neatly piled clothes before moving onto the market aisles overlooking Fraser Street. Others grabbed coffee at the Starbucks near the doors.
“Everything is geared more toward dorm essentials, grab-and-go food, dry grocery, tech accessories,” said Jenna Holsberger, the store manager. “It gives more variety for the quick stop in-and-out kind of thing, when most people don’t have cars around here.”
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With the opening, Target has 27 flexible-format stores across the country. According to Holsberger, the company plans on opening 15 this year.
Like other major retailers, Target is feeling the pressure from online behemoths like Amazon. And with the recent introduction of Facebook Marketplace, a direct challenge to the likes of buy-and-sell hubs eBay and Craigslist, competition continues to spike, forcing retailers to think bigger.
Or smaller in the case of Target. Cities are seeking to improve walkability, which studies have shown improves quality of life and makes city-living more affordable. State College, with its quickly upscaling metro area and proximity to a young customer base, is a prime target for major retailers, who in turn are slimming down to keep up. On Thursday, global fashion brand and Fraser Centre neighbor H&M, for instance, is set to open at noon.
Holsberger said the Fraser Centre store is one of eight on or near a college campus. In the past three years, flexible-format stores have opened near Boston University, the University of Chicago and the University of California Berkeley.
“It’s something that’s very new to a Target,” Holsberger said.
In 2016, the company plans to invest about $1 billion in stores and new openings, according to a release. Also on Wednesday, locations opened in Philadelphia’s Rittenhouse Square, New York’s Tribeca neighborhood and Cupertino Main Street in the heart of Silicon Valley.
At the Fraser Centre location, customers have access to a CVS Pharmacy, open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday, besides Target Mobile, the company’s cellular retail service.
The hours for the store’s Starbucks, meanwhile, are 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
The store employs about 70 team members, Holsberger said, and is still hiring.
Holsberger, a Pennsylvania native, moved back to the area in July to begin trainings and prepare for the opening. She had worked for Target in Connecticut for the past four years.
“(It’s) exciting; it takes a lot to open a new store,” she said. “I think people are surprised by how big it truly is when they step inside.”
The store is open 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday and 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday.