Tar­get’s hip facelift

Take a peek into the six over­hauled stores in the Tampa Bay area.

Tampa Bay Times - - Business - BY SARA DINATALE Times Staff Writer Con­tact Sara DiNatale at sd­i­na­tale@tam­pabay.com. Fol­low @sara_­d­i­na­tale

CLEAR­WA­TER — The Su­per Tar­get on Gulf-to-Bay Boule­vard is lin­ing its back walls with ar­ti­fi­cial Christ­mas trees.

A spe­cial Hanukkah shop wel­comes guests as they walk through the slid­ing glass doors. Chat­ter about Black Fri­day deals is al­ready in the air, as shop­pers flip through ads and rum­mage clear­ance racks.

But it’s more than the shift of shop­ping sea­sons in­side the 180,000-square­foot store that has changed its at­mos­phere. Over the last year, the en­tire store has been done over. It’s one of six in the greater Tampa Bay area to get a ma­jor facelift be­fore the close of 2018 — and one of the 1,000 the re­tailer prom­ises to ren­o­vate by the end of 2020.

“We’re ty­ing to­gether the en­vi­ron­ment with ease and in­spi­ra­tion,” said the store’s man­ager, Cindy Gallo. “We’re an­swer­ing the ques­tion: ‘What does our guest want?’”

And that may not be the same in every store, said Gallo, whose official ti­tle is store team leader.

There is not just one re­model type be­ing used across the Min­neapolis­based chain. But there are themes in all the re­mod­eled stores: light­ing that seems brighter, a beauty bar that looks like a minia­ture Sephora, and ex­panded toy sec­tions vy­ing to take over some of the Toys R Us mar­ket share af­ter the troubled re­tail chain closed lo­ca­tions na­tion­wide.

The six stores — in Clear­wa­ter, Trin­ity, Pinel­las Park, New Tampa and Gandy Boule­vard in Tampa — have up­dated decor, ex­panded or­der pick-up and ser­vice coun­ters, en­hanced beauty de­part­ments, up­dated man­nequins and dis­plays, and added nurs­ing rooms.

“It’s soft and invit­ing, and cool and hip,” Gallo said. “We want it to be an easy place to shop.”

The over­all shift across the brand — more than 200 stores have been re­mod­eled this year — ap­pears to be pay­ing off. Tar­get’s stock is up about 31 per­cent so far this year. The brand also has un­veiled new cloth­ing and home-good lines that seem to be res­onat­ing with shop­pers, ac­cord­ing to an­a­lysts.

In Clear­wa­ter, Tar­get is play­ing pop tunes over the speak­ers storewide — some­thing the re­tailer has only re­cently started do­ing in se­lect stores.

There also is a ded­i­cated wines and spir­its shop within the store, sep­a­rate from the nor­mal al­co­hol of­fer­ings in the gro­cery depart­ment. That was cre­ated, Gallo said, to tar­get cus­tomers who stop at the store on their way to Clear­wa­ter Beach and want to quickly grab party fa­vors.

The reimag­ined toy depart­ment has in­ter­ac­tive pieces that are rem­i­nis­cent of Toys R Us. Some stores have lit­tle play­houses. The one in Clear­wa­ter has a gi­ant Lego prop with two block peo­ple on a slide, as well as a pipe toy that works like a tin-can tele­phone. The Su­per Tar­get in New Tampa has a sim­i­lar setup.

Tar­get en­tered the Tampa Bay mar­ket in 1991 with a slew of grand open­ings sched­uled on the same July week­end. Then, Tar­get was known mostly as a dis­count store and was dec­o­rated with skinny neon lights. Now, the hip aes­thetic is a mix of bright whites, clean grays and rus­tic wooden ac­cents.

And the tech­nol­ogy? Not even com­pa­ra­ble.

Not only do many of the re­mod­eled stores have ex­panded self-check­out lanes, but also Gallo showed off the new “my check­out” gad­get. Say you head to the new beauty counter — which like the big makeup stores has some­one on staff to help you find the pre­fect shade of foun­da­tion — and only need an eye­liner.

“The team mem­ber can check you out on the spot as long as you’re pay­ing with a credit, debit or gift card,” Gallo said.

An­other portable tool even prints out the re­ceipt.

SARA DINATALE | Times

Su­per Tar­get store team leader Cindy Gallo checks out the ex­panded toy depart­ment’s new doll dis­play in Clear­wa­ter.

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