Target Bringing Its Urban Store Concept to South Washington Street

By Stephen Siegel
Falls Church Times Staff
June 28, 2017

Ever since Fresh Market pulled out of Lincoln Property Company’s new development on South Washington Street, the question was what would replace it. Few retailers want or can afford more than 20,000 square feet of space, which left Lincoln, one retail analyst said, “between a rock and a hard place.”

Despite that predicament, Lincoln appears to have escaped with the help of Target. The Minneapolis-based chain, best known for its huge suburban department stores, announced Wednesday that it will open one of its new, smaller style stores in the ground floor of Lincoln’s building, which is tucked in between South Maple and South Washington and across from Pearson Square.

It’s a bit of a coup for the City, which gets one of the first of these smaller Target stores and the tax revenue that will come with it. There’s only one other in northern Virginia now, in Rosslyn, and not many more than 30 nationwide. The stores were called Target Express when the company launched the concept in 2014, but it recently dropped that name and now just calls them “Target,” despite the fact that they are perhaps one-fifth the size of their traditional stores.

However, Target is planning a rapid expansion of the small-store concept, and has announced a location in Ballston, as well as in close-in urban suburbs and college towns across the country.

It’s unclear exactly what the product mix will be, and a video tour of the concept on the Target web site doesn’t shed a lot of light. Clearly, the store will focus on smaller items and eliminate big ticket items such as appliances and furniture. The company also highlights the fact that items purchased on the Target web site will be available for pickup at these smaller stores.

It also remains to be seen how successful it will be. Target is attempting to personalize each store to its location, changing the product mix to respond to the demographics of each. That is a good strategy, but also one that is challenging to pull off.

Additionally, many suburban retailers are attempting to open these smaller urban stores, but haven’t always been successful; Wal-Mart shuttered all 102 of its similar Wal-Mart Express concept stores in early 2016.

But even if it is successful, the addition of Target is likely to be controversial in the Little City. While some residents will love and patronize it, others will lament the arrival of yet another national chain. Many residents have been concerned that all the redevelopment of recent years would lead to Falls Church City losing its unique vibe.

The chaining of the City took a couple of steps back in recent months, as Famous Dave’s and Smashburger closed their City locations. But the arrival of Target and German grocer Aldi suggests such closures were not the beginning of a trend.

The trend toward chains is likely to continue because retail landlords love the deep pockets and stability that they offer. Still, the City has done relatively well in attracting independent businesses, and another such independent is preparing to open in the Famous Dave’s space. It is another barbecue restaurant, but this one will be an original concept operated by the people behind Arlington’s popular Northside Social and Liberty Tavern. The same group also is planning on opening a place much like Northside at 205 Park Ave. Construction at that address has been underway for some time.

By
June 28, 2017 

Comments

One Response to “Target Bringing Its Urban Store Concept to South Washington Street”

  1. Anne Hajduk, Falls Church on June 29th, 2017 8:54 am

    The “city” lost its vibe a long time ago, speaking from someone who’s been a renter for 20 years. Too much traffic, poor traffic engineering, basic quality of life services declined in favor of schools, schools, schools.

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