Target Express downtown Berkeley. Photo: Tracey Taylor
The new TargetExpress which opened today, March 4, 2015, in downtown Berkeley. Photo: Tracey Taylor

Veteran Berkeley dwellers are wont to say that there is nowhere to buy underwear downtown. It’s a complaint that has historically underscored the lack of broad-based retail options in the heart of the city. With the opening of TargetExpress at the corner of  Shattuck and Allston Way today, that is less of a problem, however. One aisle of the 12,000-square-foot store — only the third TargetExpress in the country — offers a selection of men’s briefs and women’s undergarments.

With nearby Cal students in mind, the store also stocks hangers, ironing boards and sheets in its Home section, printer cartridges and legal pads in its Stationery aisle, ready-made margaritas and frozen pizza in the Food section, and — in its gleaming Tech section — wireless routers, speakers and iPads. There is even a small selection of Cal hats and T-shirts for sale.

This should be welcome news for UC Berkeley students, 86.9% of whom, in a 2011 study, expressed a desire for an “all-purpose” store that sold general items — like a Target.

The new TargetExpress in downtown Berkeley is on the corner of Shattuck and Allston Way. Photo: Tracey Taylor

The Minnesota retail giant is also giving the nod to local manufacturers across all of its product categories. Visitors to the store on Wednesday, its first day in soft opening mode, will have spotted bags of Peet’s Coffee, Annie’s Homegrown mac n’ cheese, and Method household cleaners — all Bay Area brands.

An interior mural by Berkeley artist Eszter Clark, with its visual shout-outs to Tilden Park, organic food, and Telegraph Avenue among other things, adds to the “locavore” feel of the new store.

“We are tailoring the store to its district,” confirms Target spokesperson Kisa Lew, adding that the product line-up will continue to evolve as the store conducts market research among its customers to gauge what they most need.

The first TargetExpress opened a stone’s throw from the University of Minnesota campus in Minneapolis’ Dinkytown neighborhood, and today also saw the opening of a TargetExpress in San Francisco. Located in the city’s financial district, the floors of that store are gray and white, rather than the vibrant red of the Berkeley store, and grab-and-go items include ties and statement jewelry for the office folk who will likely be running in to shop between meetings.

Lew said Target’s own-brand products, under labels like up & up, Simply Balanced, and Archer Farms, are popular lines. The store includes a pharmacy — always a core element for Target, said Lew — and Berkeley High students have not been forgotten, with quick-food items and single pieces of fresh fruit available for off-campus lunches.

With its TargetExpress roll-out, the retailer is looking for dense urban environments, hence the choice of downtown Berkeley. The proximity to a big university campus helped, said Lew.

Target also has City Target stores which, at anywhere between 80,000- to 160,000-square feet, are bigger than the Express model and geared to what is known in the trade as “fill-in” shopping — as in grabbing items to last a week, rather than just what you need today.

The new Berkeley store took over the vacant space that had formerly been occupied by Walgreens before it relocated to the other side of Shattuck Avenue. It has employed 50 people so far, some of them Cal and Berkeley City College students, said Lew, and there are more jobs available.

The TargetExpress will have its official opening on March 8 when it will be installing a number of planters around the downtown area in collaboration with the Berkeley Project.

Update, 3.6.15: To mark its arrival in downtown Berkeley, Target will co-host a block party on Memorial Glade featuring a free concert with Lemaitre, on Saturday, March 14 from 4-7 p.m. The event is being organized in partnership with the UC Berkeley Student Union Program Entertainment and Recreation Board, and will include games, giveaways and live music.

TargetExpress’ opening hours: Monday-Saturday, 7am-11pm; Sunday 8am-10pm. Pharmacy hours: Monday-Friday, 9am-7pm, Saturday, 9am-5pm; Sunday 11am-5pm.

The new store stocks several local brands, including Peet’s Coffee. Photo: Tracey Taylor
A nod to the nearby campus: Cal merchandise at the new TargetExpress. Photo: Tracey Taylor
The new TargetExpress in Berkeley offers online ordering and in-store pick-up service. Photo: Tracey Taylor
Underwear, including briefs and socks, is available at the new TargetExpress in downtown Berkeley. Photo: Tracey Taylor

Target to open small city store in downtown Berkeley (09.04.14)

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Tracey Taylor is co-founder of Berkeleyside and co-founder and editorial director of Cityside, the nonprofit parent to Berkeleyside and The Oaklandside. Before launching Berkeleyside, Tracey wrote for...