After Target Corp. announced plans to close its North Minneapolis store last week, some North Minneapolis residents are debating the wisdom of taking over the store and retaining Target as a supplier,… After Target Corp. announced plans to close its North Minneapolis store last week, some North Minneapolis residents are debating the wisdom of taking over the store and retaining Target as a supplier, while others want the limping giant retailer to keep their doors open. “We can’t rule out keeping the store if it is offered,” said, State Representative Keith Ellison, DFL-Minneapolis. “We are also considering other options when we begin negotiations with Target,” he explained shortly after leaders from Minnesota’s Black community concluded a press conference on Friday last in front of the Target’s downtown (Nicollet Mall) store.
The community elders and members of the Church community warned of anticipated hardship the community expects as a result of the closing of the Target store on West Broadway. “This Target is a major employer on Minneapolis’ North side and it infuses about $4 million or more into North Minneapolis in terms of salaries and benefits,” said Ellison. “It draws its staff largely from this area and at this time of economic recession, the store’s August 2, 2003 shutdown is particularly devastating.”
The claim of untold hardships to the community was echoed by members of the Coalition of Black Churches. It appeared that some church members had resigned themselves the inevitable – the store will be no more. “We can’t stop them, but we would like the property to be donated to the neighborhood,” said the Rev. Jessie Griffin, who is worried about what he described as a short notice to cease operations in the area by Target Corp.
The Rev. Ian Bethel wants the national retailer to delay closing for a further extended period in order to enable the community and workers to overcome the shock and would accept “community ownership of the facility if the offer is made to the entire community, involving the grass root level and free from any backdoor deals,” he said.
Former state representative Gregory Gray said community ownership of a retail operation could be a challenge. He said he once worked in retail and is aware of the financial resource that go into maintaining a store like Target. “People come to Target because of its name; the company has spent a great deal of money advertising its name so people are familiar with them and return. Perhaps the community could do this with a sizeable investment from Target, but if Target’s willing to make that investment, then they should have decided to keep the store open in the first place,” said Gray.
To such concept Target representatives responded, “We would consider such a request along with a number of other possibilities, but we have not as yet received a formal offer from the community and we are willing to extend ourselves to help the community,” said, Carolyn Brookter, director corporate communications, the only Target official to speak to Insight News.
In a release shortly after the press conference, Target said it is willing to continue dialogue with the community “about finding the best alternative use for the site” and reiterated that the decision to close the store was based on a number of economic considerations, the primary one being sustained losses for nearly ten years.
But Bethel feels that the North Minneapolis store failed because the managers at Target were inept. “The managers were not efficient,” he told Insight News. He said it was his opinion that staff training was unsatisfactory.
The Target employers on the north side are the second in recent months to leave the area. Earlier about 120 workers got the pink slip when Kodak processing plant closed; now the 123 employees at Target must face the same fate.
However, Target officials claim that they did not give up easily. The store at 701 W. Broadway “continued to be among the chain’s weakest performers,” even after remodeling and changing merchandise assortment a