Joan LaRose has been to the new Target store in North Park three times since it opened on March 12. She and her neighbors "love" the convenience of having a 35,200 sq./ft. "small-format" Target nearby; product placement within the two-story building and parking in the back is another story.
"I think the liquor is too close to the rear exit," LaRose said on March 31. "It is directly adjacent to the door on the right hand side as you exit. I cannot believe Target was not aware of the potential problem here."
LaRose, 69, is a retired North Park resident that lives a half mile away from the chain store that's on the corner of University Avenue and Ray Street, two blocks east of the North Park sign.
"Hire security," suggested LaRose's neighbor. "You're going to need it. Ask Smart & Final down the street, they had to lock up the booze because of the grab-and-dash [activities]."
The back door of the revamped Target building, that once housed a JC Penney department store for three decades, leads into an alley that connects Ray Street and Grim Avenue and Target's designated parking spots.
Store employees of the neighboring businesses admit that their walk-in traffic has increased since last month.
"I went to the Target again two days ago and for the very first time visited several other local shops on foot," said one neighbor. "The new Target actually prompted me to try some local businesses I might have otherwise ignored."
Dee works in one of the adjacent buildings. "It’s not going to be easy on us to find parking daily because of [our] lost spots," she said. "There are two lots on Grim Avenue behind the Target [and] they took 29 spots and made them Target one-hour parking spots."
Jane A., an Elite '19 Yelp reviewer gave the new Target a 4-star rating out of five. "Their targeted audience are the locals," she said, "for those outsiders, good luck finding parking in North Park aka 'No Park.' It doesn't offer as much as the larger Targets but you'll find the basic necessities and then some at this location. Imagine a mini Target [with] each department shrunk down and condensed to a 8'x8' space."
"The only concern I have is that it's [mostly] self-check out," Jazmin said, "and if you buy alcohol, you have to wait in line for the customer service counter."
Another neighbor wishes there were more than "two human operated check-out registers" available; although she does applaud the loss-prevention personnel. "[On March 17] I happened to walk up to the back door right when some hooligans were trying to steal something," she said, "but security actually handled it really well."
"The double doors make it harder to steal anything from the store," Dee said. "I don’t think there is much they could do to deter shoplifters with the layout."
On April 1 in the afternoon, I entered through the rear by the liquor selection and grabbed a bottle of wine. The female attendant that carded me and rang me up, confirmed that the store has "growing pains" including thieves escaping through the back door.
Some customers are concerned that the grab-and-dashes may prompt the store management to "lock the rear door" as the nearby Ralph's did last year.
"I really liked Ralph's, but I stand on my principle that closing a door for 'shortage' is short-sighted," LaRose said. "They (Target) could hire another security guard and check receipts just like they do at Costco."
"Yeah, no thanks," Morgan said. "I don't go shopping to be made to feel like a criminal. They (Ralph's) thought it would be awesome to implement some gestapo type shenanigans .... and apparently so many people complained about this tactic."
Since the opening of the new Target, according to the Crimemapping website, there were no reported crimes at Target's 3000 block on University Avenue; there was a theft/larceny case on the 3100 block on March 12 and a fraud case five days after in the same area; on 30th Street which is a block to the west, there was a theft/larceny incident on March 16 and an assault on March 22.