BY MARY REINHOLZ | A long-awaited Target store has opened in Union Square after the giant discount retailer took over a 33,000-square-foot space previously leased for more than two decades by a Food Emporium supermarket at the base of Zeckendorf Towers.
The new store, at 10 Union Square West, has none of the amenities, like a sushi bar or a custom cake-making bakery, that Food Emporium offered its customers. But it has plenty of groceries, including New York strip steak, along with Target’s general merch, from toys to houseware products, and a CVS pharmacy, plus same-day delivery. Daily hours are from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
New York Mayor Eric Adams, who was at the Oct. 17 ribbon-cutting with City Councilmember Carlina Rivera, touted the new Target’s “iconic” location as one that would bring jobs and foot traffic to the spot, which is right next to a busy subway hub on E. 14th Street. The renovated place was vacant throughout much of the pandemic, after the Minneapolis-based Target reportedly bought out Food Emporium’s 16-year-lease from its owner, Key Food, and renovated the space.
Target declined to hire Food Emporium employees for its other New York stores when they were abruptly terminated in May 30, 2021, according to a weekend manager at the time.
Now, however, jobs apparently are on tap here. Signs inside the entrance announce the Union Square Target store is seeking part-time hires — described as “team heroes” — starting at $18.25 an hour. It’s a nice figure for a nationwide operation that has lost sales to theft and “organized” shoplifting, including at the Target in East Harlem, at 517 E. 117th St. Corporate Target shut the East Harlem location down, along with eight other stores in four different states, a day before the Oct. 22 grand opening of its Union Square store.
An unusually candid company statement explains, in part, that Target management “cannot continue operating these stores because theft and organized retail crime are threatening the safety of our team and guests, and contributing to unsustainable business performance.”
Target C.E.O. Brian Connell has noted an increased incidence of crime at the chain stores during this year.
Meanwhile, 96 of the chain’s stores remain open in the New York City market, “employing 20,000 team members,” Target trumpeted in a prepared statement.
Security at the Union Square store loomed large over the weekend and included a roving New York Police Department cop carrying a pistol in a holster at his hip.
“It’s New York, after all, and he comes when he wants to,” said a member of the store’s public safety team.
Kerwin Lazaro, the store’s director, repeatedly refused to answer questions on Oct. 29 from The Village Sun and referred this reporter to targetmedia.com to find a media contact.
Earlier, a young female staffer explained that the grand opening was not particularly stressful for her because, she said, “I was trained at the Times Square” store. Asked if she had joined a union, she shook her head no. Target has resisted efforts to unionize.
The Union Square Target will have plenty of competition on its turf, including Whole Foods Market and a Trader Joe’s nearby on E. 14th Street. Farther east is another Trader Joe’s and a popular “small format” Target at the corner of Avenue A, plus, of course, the new Wegmans a few blocks south at Astor Place. The busy East Village Target has many of the same items as the much larger Target down the street at Union Square, including a large selection of trendy clothing.
“We have more clothing than they do now,” said an imposing security guard named Ernesto standing by the door and eyeing traffic diligently. “They have things we don’t have and we have things they don’t have.”