San Francisco's City Target Store: An Urban Goldmine

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- I lived in San Francisco between 1999 and 2006.

I visited this past weekend (to chat with Pandora ( P) co-founder Tim Westergren for Tuesday's first edition of TheBeach Meets TheStreet).

While in town, I gave myself a tour of Target's ( TGT) "urban concept" locations.

One will occupy a former Mervyn's site, adjacent to a Best Buy ( BBY). But, don't worry, that banner in the picture reassures browsers and showroomers that Best Buy remains open during construction.

This site is near the University of San Francisco campus, which makes sense; Target located one of its Southern California "City Targets" adjacent to UCLA. Like the LA outpost, the San Francisco store is also a stone's throw away from a Trader Joe's.

The other City Target is up and running in Downtown San Francisco (4th and Mission) in the Sony ( SNE) Metreon building, which houses several other attractions including restaurants and a movie theater.

City Target looks pretty damn nice smack dab on the edge of San Francisco's main shopping district. Seeing that store and knowing how well it and the forthcoming one will do made me, in some respects, back off of the negative opinion I expressed late last year in City Target: Major Disappointment, But Is It An Epic Failure?

Here's where I stand on Target's urban strategy now, which, by the way, interests me because I'm a big fan of urban environments.

One -- I'm still majorly disappointed. Target had an opportunity to do something special in its urban stores. Instead, it ignored anything resembling retail innovation, pulling from the same tired tool box it uses in its suburban stores.

Calling what Target is doing in the urban core a "concept" makes it sound all-too-sophisticated. It's nothing but an urban planning and design workaround. There's resistance to huge big box stores in places such as San Francisco. Therefore, Target compromises and opens slightly smaller stores.

Two -- Even though it's unimaginative, it will work, at least in San Francisco and probably elsewhere.

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