Monday, February 26, 2007

Target vs. Wal-Mart

I am a Target shopper. I am not a big fan of Wal-Mart. And neither fact has any basis in politics or public image. Quite simply, I prefer the atmosphere and merchandise of Target over Wal-Mart.

It seems that, in Lincoln, Neb., I’m not in the minority. The local newspaper, The Lincoln Journal-Star, has run a continuing series on the anchor-tenant debate that surrounds a new town center under development in northeast Lincoln.

Optimistic about initial interest from Target, and concerned about rumors that Wal-Mart was sniffing around the site as well, Lincoln Mayor (and Target shopper) Colleen Seng tactically ensured that Wal-Mart couldn’t play ball, by downsizing the maximum anchor size to 175,000 sq. ft. Confident that Wal-Mart wouldn’t budge from its space minimums, Seng believed that Target’s anchor status was a wrap.

Then Target backed out. And, in yesterday’s paper, Wal-Mart made the following announcement: The company said it would shave its store size in order to meet the 175,000-sq.-ft. minimum-size requirement. In essence, Wal-Mart said, “We’re in.” Many Lincolnites, especially those who neighbor the development, are up in arms. They wanted Target. They didn’t want Wal-Mart. I’m with them.

No one knows yet why Target backed away. Or, at least, no one’s saying. My guess is that, for one, Target believes its loyal customers will continue to drive the 36 blocks—from 84th Street, where the new development is going in, to 48th Street, where a Target resides—to shop its store. Target may be right.

— Katherine Field

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