The discussion around Target and whether or not Alameda needs a Target or should have a Target or what should be in that Target is always an interesting issue. So to sum up the Planning Board meeting the other night — which was very well documented by Eve Pearlman over on Alameda Patch in a play by play analysis — was that while some Planning Board members wouldn’t necessarily choose Target for their shopping needs there was a realization that some Alamedans like to shop at Alameda.
And because Alamedans like to shop in Alameda, and will go off island to shop at Target, and will spend a considerable amount of their money at Target, it would probably be better to capture those purchases — which are considerable — instead of conceding these dollars to Emeryville or Albany or San Leandro.
There was one Planning Board member who was fixated on limiting the type of sales that Target could offer, specifically grocery sales. Unsurprisingly this was Board Member Mike Henneberry who is, when not wearing his Planning Board hat, is the Communications Director for the United Food and Commercial Workers Union. While I can appreciate his position in questioning Catellus and Target on the Urban Decay Analysis, it appeared that he wanted the Urban Decay Analysis to address issues that it simply does not cover. For those not versed in Environmental Impact Reports, the Urban Decay Analysis is something that has to be part of an EIR to show (or not show) that a development won’t essentially shut down every other business around it. The Board Member wanted the decay analysis to reflect the impacts on workers of surrounding businesses and how they would be affected if their hours were to be cut because of the shift from one business to the other. This is, of course, with the assumption that Target will have a full fledged grocery inside, even though they have promised to cap non taxable sales (grocery and pharmacy) to under 10% for no more than five years.
First off, let’s talk retail sales tax leakage, according to the Urban Decay Analysis (it’s part of the Supplemental EIR and the file will take a while to load so be patient), in the General Merchandise category — which is what Target falls under — Alamedans spend off island $137.2 million in that General Merchandise category. As a commenter pointed out, grocery stores also sell general merchandise, but it’s clear that even with the sheer volume of grocery stores that are on island, it’s not capturing that amount of off-island spending.
Oh, let me slip in the factoid that in the Urban Decay Analysis there is reference to the other larger building (Building A, 30K sq ft) as potentially housing a specialized grocery store. 30K to provide perspective is about the same size as the Safeway on Bay Farm. Over the weekend, an Alamedan tweeted that a rep at the Layfayette Whole Foods Store noted that the company is eyeing Alameda for a potential store in the next three years which would fit in with the timeline for Alameda Landing if Target will be the first store to roll out in October 2013.
Add to that the fact that the Urban Decay Analysis actually reports that all the Alameda based grocery stores — with the exception of the Bay Farm Safeway which should be largely insulated from any ripple effects from an Alameda Landing grocery or grocery within Target — are overperforming in their relative markets. And the Urban Decay analysis acknowledges that there might be slight shifts, but that Luckys will probably not close with the opening of Target or even the 30K sq ft grocery at Alameda Landing since the West End is grocery store poor compared to other parts of Alameda. And honestly if the Luckys closes, it’s probably not due to the opening of Target but because it’s a pretty crappy experience for the shopper in general. Since it’s our only close grocery store, we’re forced to shop there, especially in emergency situations. Did I mention the weird way that the floor slopes down as you are heading to the back of the store? There is apparently no rush to fix that because shoppers LOVE it when their cart drifts away from them while they are perusing the aisles.
As an aside, while I’m not going to protest against grocery in Target, personally Target should slowly back away from the grocery market in general unless they are going to do it a whole lot better, because honestly, they pretty much stink at it right now with the exception of pantry items, because those have a pretty long shelf-life, like general merchandise. Try to get anything fresher and it’s really a crap shoot as to whether you are going to get something that has been handled correctly or stored properly. As long as Target continues to suck at fresh grocery, traditional grocers really have nothing to be concerned about. And anyone who actually thinks that Target’s grocery is any threat to traditional grocery stores hasn’t done much shopping in a Target grocery area lately.
Anyway, SuperTarget/SuperCenter or not — the Target rep on Monday night stated that Target does not build their definition of a “SuperTarget” which includes a butcher, bakery, or deli in Northern California in general. So while the “industry” may have defined “SuperCenters” as one thing or another, when defining what sort of store Target wants to bring to Alameda it’s probably best to use their definition so we’re all discussing the same store.