When Target first brought their new store concept, TargetExpress, to downtown College Park, Maryland, it was a boon to the locals. Not only because Target is somewhere you can buy socks and boxed macaroni at the same time, but also because the smaller-format Target had a “curated merchandise assortment localized for the community,” according to Target senior specialist of public relations Evan Lapiska.
Instead of just shrinking the full Target model into a smaller square footage, the products sold at the College Park store had been selected according to what Target thought the locals (i.e. college students) would need. For downtown College Park (where previously locals had the choice between picking up “groceries” at CVS or 7-Eleven) that meant a decent amount of the store was devoted to fresh food and grab-and-go meal items, along with health and beauty products, small electronics, and some UMD and Terp-themed clothing.
Target has replicated the mini-Target model—which they refer to as “flexible-format stores” and have rebranded from TargetExpress to just Target—in 19 locations, including a second DC-area Target in Rosslyn. In March of next year, Target plans to open their third small-scale Target in the region, this time in Bethesda at the Shops of Wisconsin.
For the flexible format stores, Kristy Welker from Target’s communications team says the brand has identified ten key cities with desirable density where they plan to expand. The smaller format—the new Bethesda store will be just 35,500 square feet as opposed to a “general merchandise” store’s typical size of around 130,000 square feet—is more urban-friendly, and it allows them to focus the products to target (pun intended) the particular needs of the area.
For Bethesda, this will mean catering to the working families in the area with men’s, women’s, and kid’s clothing and accessories; toys and sports gear; home and décor products; and fresh food and quick meal items; health and beauty and a pharmacy with order pickup; and portable technology accessories.
The Bethesda Target store is slated to open in March 2017 at the Shops of Wisconsin, which is currently getting a multi-million dollar face lift. In addition to the Bethesda store, Target has announced plans to open 26 additional stores—many of which fit the flexible format model—in 2016 and 2017 around the country.
“Flexible-format stores are a priority for Target, and guests have responded well to having these customized stores available in areas where they previously couldn’t have been opened before,” says Welker.