Metro, Boston

Target Sets Aim On Fenway

Wally isn’t the only Fenway mascot—the green monster now has to share his neighborhood with Bullseye, the white bull terrier iconic of one of the nation’s largest major commercial retailers and whose image is now plastered across the corner of Boylston and Kilmarknock streets.

This summer, Target opened the doors of its newest location in the Boston area. Though the Minnesota-based chain already operates more than four successful locations around the city, with a combined 160,000 square feet and 350 associates, the new Fenway store is the largest in greater Boston.

Not only is this location one of the region’s most expansive location, but it is the biggest CityTarget in the country, as well as the first on the east coast. Since 2012, the retailer has tailored some of its urban locations to accommodate the city-goers lifestyle—spawning a store that features all of the same products as most suburban locations but one that pays more attention to details. The nation’s eight CityTarget locations stock their shelves with products targeted toward an urban environment, in smaller sizes that are more convenient for those who use public transportation and live in areas that are very accessible.

“We know our guests have more shopping choices than ever, so a critical part of our strategy is providing them with compelling reasons and more convenient ways to shop with us,” Target’s 2012 annual report read, the year in which the CityTarget concept was first implemented. “CityTarget brings further innovation to the Target shopping experience with features designed to help urban dwellers better navigate city living.”

The Fenway neighborhood, though famous for being the home of Boston’s most beloved team, has recently developed into more than just a tourist attraction. The new CityTarget is just the most recent advancement in the area’s development plan that features popular businesses, restaurants, and retailers.

Though CityTarget moves the Fenway neighborhood away from its athletic origin, the new location pays homage to the area’s tradition and the nation’s favorite pastime. Original seats from Fenway Park line the store’s entrance and a set of windows on the second floor are positioned to look out over the baseball stadium’s Gate D. The sporting goods section features an entire collection of local sports team apparel, and Red Sox’ great Tim Wakefield was invited to cut the ceremonial ribbon on opening day.

In addition to the Boston-centric details, Fenway CityTarget features some unique characteristics, including its recent approval to sell alcohol—a concept that the company looks to expand in future stores.

As important as the Fenway neighborhood was in the store’s design style, the area’s accessibility and proximity to Boston’s city center was integral in the store’s conception. As a retail location, Fenway has immediate access to a highly frequented T stop, huge influxes of city goers, and a large population of college students.

With back to school being one of Target’s most profitable seasons, the location of the new CityTarget is bound to be a profitable one. Forbes writes that for back to school shopping, the average family spends just under $700.00 per child attending grades K through 12 and over $1,000 per college-bound student. Situated between Brookline and Back Bay, Fenway draws in students from more than 8 Colleges and Universities, including Boston University, Simmons College, Northeastern University, and Boston College.

“This year I spent more than I usually would because I’m living off campus, so I think it came down to at least $500,” said Taelor Coon, MCAS ’17, who visited the Framingham Target in preparation for this academic year. “You could tell a lot of people were shopping for college,” noted her sister, Allie Coon MCAS ’19, who described the busy store and bare shelves. “We would definitely go if it wasn’t crowded,” they joked upon hearing about the new Fenway location.

For the BC community, the new CityTarget offers another local outlet for school and dorm supplies. Currently the closest other Target location to BC, as well as many other Colleges of the Fenway, is the company’s Watertown location.

Though only a few miles from BC’s Chestnut Hill Campus, the Watertown location lacks the quality that the CityTarget highlights: accessibility. Despite its location a few miles from the closest T stop, the Watertown store continues to clear shelves every September for the back to school rush, a feat that the company expects the new CityTarget to continue.

According to the company’s 2014 Annual Report, “on average, CityTarget stores generate higher-than-average sales and have a favorable merchandise mix that contributes to strong gross margins.” Further, “of the 15 new stores we will open in 2015, more than half are urban formats, including one new CityTarget and eight new TargetExpress locations.”

A brainchild of the CityTarget format, TargetExpress locations are also showing up across the country—especially on or around college campuses. A smaller version of the major retailer, about 15 percent of a normal store size according to The Washington Post, these locations sell basic necessities in an environment that can be best described as a step above a convenience store. As CityTarget, TargetExpress recently made its East Coast debut with a location at the University of Maryland, College Park.

Featured Image by Francisco Ruela / Heights Graphic

September 3, 2015

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