published Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

Target tries to fill void left by Food Lion

Cory Wallen, consumables team leader at the Hixson Target store, checks on stock. Both Chattanooga Targets will expand their food sections.
Cory Wallen, consumables team leader at the Hixson Target store, checks on stock. Both Chattanooga Targets will expand their food sections.
Photo by Angela Lewis.

TARGET UPDATES

Local Target stores will remodel their interiors by July. The biggest changes will come to grocery sections, where hundreds of items will be added. Changes in other departments:

Beauty — signs offering makeup tips

Home — more displays

Shoes — benches and mirrors

Baby — streamlined layouts

Source: Kristin Jahnke, Target spokeswoman

Local Target stores will raise their food offerings 40 percent by July.

The Highway 153 and Gunbarrel Road Targets will start offering hundreds of new items, including prepackaged produce, meat, bakery and deli products. The expanded selection will offer 90 percent of the food categories in SuperTarget stores.

In the wake of last week's announcement that Food Lion is closing more than two-thirds of its area supermarkets, the upscale discounter is trying to take a bigger bite of the grocery dollar. The expanded selections at Target will offer 90 percent of the food categories in SuperTarget stores.

The Hixson store started renovations in December and should finish by the end of March.

The Gunbarrel Road Target will start renovations in March, ending by July. Each job will cost between $2 million and $4 million.

"The biggest thing they're gearing towards is making it more of a one-stop shop," said Gunbarrel store manager Travis McMasters. "It's kind of fill-in shopping in between grocery visits."

Some changes will come as a result of a companywide update program. Target started revamping stores in 2008, and has already remodeled almost 900 of Target's 1,767 stores.

Food offerings aren't prepared on site, but packaged and delivered through Target's distribution system.

The remodels will wrap up just as Food Lion shuts down 14 area grocery stores as part of a program to close 113 units across the South.

But McMasters doesn't expect to compete head-on with other grocery providers such as the nearby Walmart or Earth Fare, which shares a parking lot with the store. Target typically draws a different clientele than those stores, he said. Grocery options won't be extensive enough to warrant a full grocery store trip.

Soddy-Daisy resident Kayte Locke shops at the Hixson Target, about 10 minutes away from her home, once a week when she needs a few items in between grocery store trips.

"It's just those things you have to have and don't want to go to the grocery store," she said.

Target tends to be less crowded and offer better customer service, she said, so she prefers going there to pick up whatever she can.

The remodelings affect only the stores' interiors. The stores will stay open throughout the projects, with sections under construction partitioned off. The majority of work will be done after closing.

Some of the other store sections will shrink to accommodate the remodeling. Still, store managers expect the changes to bump customer volumes enough to hire 25 to 40 employees.

Sarah Johnson, manager of the Hixson Target, said the updates have been a long time coming. She regularly has had customers requesting more food options, so she's happy her store is getting a remodel.

"Target's happy, the guests will be happy; so hopefully this will be the best of both worlds," she said.

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