Everybody's hometown is known for something. Even my non-descript suburban home of Apple Valley, Minn., has a few (minor) claims to fame. We're the location of the Minnesota Zoo, the home of the green Power Ranger and the place where some homeless guy managed to live in the local high school undetected for a month. But most notably, Apple Valley is known as the town of Target.
Now, in a state like Minnesota that is head-over-heels in love with the Target department store chain, you really need to distinguish yourself to become as obsessed with the bullseye logo as Apple Valley. Target virtually owns downtown Minneapolis, possessing the naming rights to the homes of the Timberwolves and the Twins and locating their corporate headquarters right in the middle of the City of Lakes. Hell, Minnesota even made Mark Dayton, the great-grandson of the company's founder, a U.S. senator, and he was a completely inept moron.
But Apple Valley outdoes them all. We were the location of the first Target Greatland. Until recently, our town of 40,000-some residents had the third-busiest Target in the nation––and the only reason we still don't is because they just opened an additional Target a mere two miles away from the original one. Our streets even look like a sprawling Target parking lot, what with their cherry-red street lights and crimson park benches. So it's only natural that some of this Target love would rub off on me and I would welcome the news that Target plans to open a location in my new adopted hometown of Madison next to Hilldale Mall, just a short bus ride from the UW campus.
Sadly, it doesn't appear that everybody shares my Kristin Wiig-style enthusiasm.
Last Monday a community meeting pulled in 300 Madison residents who wanted to hear about the plans for the new department store. The chosen site is located at the corner of University and Midvale and was formerly intended as a new Whole Foods location until plans for that development were scrapped. Currently, a Union South-esque construction hole occupies the space. This is considerably more accessible for campus and downtown residents who can bike or bus to Hilldale, as opposed to other comparable stores such as Shopko and Walmart, whose closest locations lie in the far east and west sides of town.
But several residents disagreed that the need for a Target was so pressing. Some worried about the added traffic the store would bring to the area, despite the fact that it already lies at a well-traveled intersection that should easily be able to accommodate another tenant. Others worried about the foreign-made products that Target would sell, but considering the area already hosts retailers like the University Bookstore and Macy's who sell plenty of foreign-made material, there has hardly been a precedent set against such business practices nearby.
However, the most predictable comments came from those who objected to the ""big box"" aspect of a Target store, with a smattering of local residents complaining that the retailer would destroy the urban nature of the surrounding neighborhoods. The Wisconsin State Journal quoted one woman as saying she didn't move into the area ""so [she] could live next to a box.""
Yes. She moved there so she could live next to an empty hole in the ground.
The whole idea of a ""big box store"" ruining the aesthetics of the Hilldale area is ridiculous in itself. The Hilldale Mall proudly welcomes tenants such as The North Face, New Balance and Hallmark––hardly stores that could be described as quaint or charming. And right across the street you can find a Borders bookstore, which is just about as big and boxy as a store can get.
But the big box store fears are likely to be unfounded anyway. Target has an excellent track record in recent years of working to blend their stores into urban areas as opposed to making urban areas adapt to the presence of their stores. A great example is located right in the shadow of Target's corporate headquarters at their Nicollet Mall store in downtown Minneapolis. The location is two stories instead of one to take up less space, complete with a specially designed shopping-cart escalator to make such a layout feasible. It also has a reserved, internal storefront as to not be overly loud and draw attention away from nearby historical buildings.
With this proven history of working to fit into communities, there is little reason to fret about the coming approach of Target. Instead we should embrace the opportunity this presents, including the jobs it will bring and a sure-to-be delicious combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell it might include. I'm not saying we need to go Target-crazy like my kin in Apple Valley, but a little openness can't hurt.
Todd Stevens is a junior majoring in history and psychology. Please send responses to email@example.com.