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Local Businesses and Students Anticipate Target’s Arrival

Kayleigh Padar | The PhoenixThe new Target will be near Loyola's Lake Shore Campus on Sheridan Rd.

Although some Loyola students might be looking forward to the opening of a new Target across the street from Loyola’s Lake Shore Campus, some Rogers Park employees are preparing for potential negative effects on the small businesses they work at.

The small-format Target — which will be located at 6422 N. Sheridan Road — is set to open April 7. Construction on the Target started in November 2017 and was initially expected to be finished in fall 2018, The Phoenix reported. There will also be both rent-controlled and market-rate apartments above the Target. The development is considered “transit-oriented” because it’s located near public transportation, The Phoenix previously reported.

Joanne Nguyen, a manager at Bentley’s Pet Stuff (1257 W. Devon Ave.), said she has mixed feelings about the new Target. She said, as a resident, she’s excited but also nervous about her small business.

Nguyen said she expects business will be slow when the Target first opens, but pick back up after the store has been open for a while. Throughout the two and a half years she’s worked as a manager, she said she’s witnessed similar patterns when other businesses have opened around the neighborhood, for example, Kriser’s Natural Pet in Andersonville.

“I think it’ll be that everyone shops at Target at first and hopefully that will peter out once it loses its grand opening steam,” Nguyen said.

Shaul Basa is the owner of Devon Market, a grocery store that’s been in the neighborhood for about 20 years.Basa said he’s not particularly worried about Target hurting his business because Devon Market has unique items, specifically foods and ingredients from other countries.

“The concept of Devon Market, it’s completely different than Target,” Basa said. “The shoppers who come to shop over here, they’re looking for specific items they can’t find anywhere else.”

Similarly, Nguyen said Bentley’s Pet Stuff is known for quality pet food and the staff is careful when choosing which products go on the shelves, which is different from Target’s stocking process.

“When it comes to that stuff, I think people will realize pretty quickly, hopefully, that we’re much more careful than Target is at what they choose to bring in for everyone’s pets,” Nguyen said.  

Basa said any time a new business comes to Rogers Park, whether it’s large or small, it affects his store slightly. However, he said he has some loyal customers, especially senior citizens and Loyola students who appreciate the 10 percent discount Basa offers them.

“Every little store that will open around here, it will affect you in a way, but we’ve been established over here for 20 years,” Basa said. “People know Devon Market. We’ve had loyal customers for several years.”

Nguyen said small businesses are important to the neighborhood and she hopes residents will continue to support them, regardless of which new stores arrive.

“The small businesses in Rogers Park are what make Rogers Park the neighborhood it is,” Nguyen said. “I know from living everywhere in the city, it’s what makes our little neighborhood unique.”

Jacqueline DeBuse, a Target spokesperson, said Target made an effort to avoid harming local businesses by examining the area and looking into which stores and items were already present in the community. She said if it was determined a certain need in the neighborhood was met by another store, the company would offer different products instead of trying to compete, but wouldn’t specify what the store would be carrying.

“Target truly believes that there’s a place for local, national, big and small businesses all in one area,” DeBuse said. “When we join a community, we’re excited to work hand in hand with those businesses to make sure that together, we’re serving the needs of the community.”

Chain stores similar to Target have been found to impact local businesses, according to a study from the Southwestern Social Science Association, an organization dedicated to social science research. Within 15 months of a Walmart opening, between four and 14 smaller stores close on average, the study showed.

The new Target will be about 40,000 square feet, which is about a third of the size of a regular Target, according to DeBuse. It’s unclear if the store’s size will affect how much it impacts local businesses.  

Because the store will be smaller, extra consideration went into the types of products that will be offered, DeBuse said. She said the company researched what items the neighborhood has a need for by talking to local leaders, community officials and groups of potential customers.

Then, Target designed the layout of the store to specifically meet the needs of the community. DeBuse said Loyola students and faculty were a “large consideration” when choosing what would go into the store.

Gosia Medrecki, a senior studying chemistry and Spanish at Loyola, said she’s curious about the smaller format of the store and how it differs from larger Targets. Medrecki said she hopes the new Target will have a good selection of cosmetics and school supplies.

“I’m interested to see if it’s going to have things that can’t be found elsewhere,” Medrecki, 21, said. “The Targets I usually go to are the bigger stores, so I’m interested in what products they can stock.”

Rosalyn Chavez, 50, has lived in the neighborhood since 2008 and said she’s watched new businesses transform the neighborhood. She said she’s concerned about how the new store will impact traffic.

Chavez said the traffic has gotten worse on Sheridan, and especially at the intersection of Devon and Sheridan as new businesses have arrived and added time to her morning commute.

“I’m really concerned not only about the congestion but the safety of the residents and any commuters who come through that area,” Chavez said.

Chavez said she doesn’t think the new store will impact most grocery stores, but will instead provide a resource for residents to buy home goods, like bed linens and dishes, without having to travel.

Junior Lauren Black, who’s studying nursing, said she doesn’t always feel safe traveling to the Wilson Red Line stop to go to the Target in Uptown and a closer location will be more convenient.

“School’s typically in the winter and it’s dark for most of the day,” Black, 20, said. “It’s hard to get to the Wilson stop and feel safe. Having this store close by is just gonna make running errands and doing things a lot easier.”

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