The wait is over. Vermont’s only Target began welcoming shoppers to its Dorset Street location on Oct. 16. Though Tuesday’s event was limited to friends and family of Target employees, the South Burlington store opened its doors to the general public on Wednesday with a soft opening, followed by the grand opening on Sunday.
“Oh my gosh it’s amazing,” said Hillary Reichert, who works at the neighboring Homewood Suites. “I think it’s beautiful, it’s super exciting. They have whatever I need and what I don’t know I need. It’s just fun to go.”
The Dorset Street location is smaller than the average Target —just shy of 40,000 square feet, while most Target stores are around 130,000 square feet — but includes all the facets one would expect from the retailing giant, said District Manager Bill Geary.
South Burlington’s scaled down Target is part of the company’s assortment of “small format” stores, which are designed to serve communities where a full-sized store might not fit, Geary said.
“It is one of the newest adventures we have,” Geary said. “We carry the same assortments just a lot less items… that is where the majority of our growth is.”
Though most of the store is devoted to apparel, Geary said, patrons will not have to look elsewhere to complete their shopping lists. There is a market stocked with everything from produce to ice cream, a housewares section, and electronic and beauty sections as well, Geary said.
While Target prides itself on high profile collaborations such as the one it has with model Chrissy Teigen, the company took strides to partner with the local community as well. As part of their partnership with Ben and Jerry’s, the ice cream company built a custom freezer for the South Burlington location. Seventh Generation, a national manufacturer of eco-friendly cleaning products based in Burlington, built a special display for their products. Local artist Michael Mullan painted a mural covering an entire wall behind the cash registers.
Target first announced their plan to open in South Burlington last fall, but things really ramped up over the summer when they began to hire staff, Geary said.
Zahraa Khudaire, a sales representative, was hired in September when the store was completely empty, she said.
“It looked weird, a lot of people and construction, all that stuff,” she said. It was only in the past three weeks that they started pulling everything together, she said.
Sales representative Bruce Wilson said the crew worked hard to get the store customer-ready, with staff members chipping in wherever they could. The payoff was worth it.
“It’s target in Vermont, so that’s awesome,” Khudaire said.
When Target employee John Cammarano first heard about the store’s opening, he was more excited by the potential boon to area businesses than the increase in shopping variety, he said.
“I think it’s great for the area, especially for the mall,” he said. “It’s been struggling a little bit, and I think it’s going be a great anchor for the mall and the community itself.”
One of the customers taking advantage of the short lines at the early opening Tuesday was Travis Dashnow, who did the store’s drywall. He said it was the biggest project of his career, and his team began work in April.
Dashnow’s favorite part of the new store?
“To have somewhere else besides Walmart to go, to have an alternative,” he said.
SOURCE: Joey Waldinger, Contributor