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Target hits mark with workers



Published: Sun, September 22, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The majority owner of the plaza said he expects traffic to double when the store opens Oct. 13.

THE VINDICATOR, YOUNGSTOWN

By CYNTHIA VINARSKY

VINDICATOR BUSINESS WRITER

BOARDMAN -- They are the chosen, the 171 employees selected from among more than 3,000 who applied to work at the new Target store in Boardman. They are not clerks or employees or even associates.

At Target, even entry-level workers are known as "team members," their staff meetings are "huddles," and they start their work days with a group exercise routine known as a "safety stretch."

It's all a part of the corporate culture that helps Target to stand out as a fun, trendy place to work, said Rich Bailey. And no, he's not a manager, he's the store team leader.

Set to open Oct. 13, the Boardman Target store is the second in the Mahoning Valley for the Minneapolis-based retailer. Forty-six other new Target stores also will open that day.

Its Niles store opened in the Eastwood Mall two years ago.

Target's arrival in Boardman had been the subject of rumor and speculation for months before the company announced its decision in October 2001 to locate in The Shops at Boardman Park on Boardman-Poland Road.

The company invested more than $1.74 million to expand and renovate space in the plaza to create a 124,453-square-foot store. The size is typical for most of the chain's 1,107 stores around the country.

Job applicants

More than 3,000 people filled out job applications when the company began advertising in July, and more than 600 were interviewed in a two-month screening process.

Staff includes seven executives and a few team members who transferred to Boardman from other stores.

Even now, employees say, there's a steady stream of would-be customers and prospective job applicants coming in despite signs on the doors giving notice that the store is not open for business.

The store continues to accept applications, with plans to hire 30 to 50 seasonal employees for the Christmas season this month.

"Quite honestly, the response doesn't surprise me," Bailey said, commenting on the number of job applicants.

"Target has a good reputation as an employer of choice and a fun place to work. It's kind of hip and trendy, so a lot of younger people gravitate here. They think it's a cool place to work."

Dave Handel, majority owner and managing partner of The Shops at Boardman Park, said he's expecting traffic in the plaza to double when Target opens.

Security officers will help direct traffic during peak hours to smooth the transition, he said, and they'll try to divert some motorist to a side lot east of the Target building.

He said the plaza parking capacity is more than adequate, exceeding the number of spaces required under the township zoning code. Landing the retailer was a major victory for the Shops.

"It was probably one of the more difficult deals that I've done in my development career," Handel said, explaining that Target generally resists redevelopment projects, preferring to start afresh with a new building.

"They feel their building needs are so specific, they don't like to go into existing buildings," Handel said, "but they finally realized that the synergy that exists in the Shops would make it worthwhile."

Handel Investments owns the Target building, which formerly housed a grocery store and a Fashion Bug store, but the retailer paid for the improvements.

Surveys indicate about 30 percent of Shops visitors come from outside Mahoning County now, and Handel expects the new Target store to attract even more shoppers from Columbiana County and western Pennsylvania.

Handel said he has two small store spaces open in the Shops plaza, and developers are looking for a new occupant for the former Home Place building located east of the plaza. The 53,000-square-foot site has been vacant for more than a year since the home furnishings chain liquidated. "We don't want to break that building up into smaller shops, and we want to further enhance our tenant mix," he said.

Charitable action

Randy Mauk, Target's team leader of guest service, said the store's presence will benefit the community because the chain gives 5 percent of its sales income to charity, about $2 million a week nationwide.

Target employees also are encouraged to participate in local community service projects, he said.

Formerly the Dayton Hudson Corp., Target Corp. employs 280,000 and has three operating segments: Target, Mervyn's and Marshall Field's. Target, which the company calls an upscale discount chain, contributed 82 percent of its total revenue in 2001. The company reported profits of $689 million for the six months ending Aug. 3, up 31 percent from the same period a year ago. Target Corp. stock trades under the symbol TGT on the New York Stock Exchange.

vinarsky@vindy.com




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