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Target's City Ambitions

The retailer tackles cities with a crop of smaller, lower-profile stores
Target's City Ambitions
Illustration by 731; Camouflage: Veer

In a landmark building in Chicago’s downtown Loop, Target is putting the final touches on what’s arguably its most radical experiment since bringing designer goods to the masses 15 years ago. In late July a new kind of Target—prosaically named City—will open on South State Street, just down the block from a Macy’s and across the street from a Forever 21. City stores, which are two-thirds the size of typical Target big boxes and may shrink further, will also open this year in Los Angeles, Seattle, and San Francisco.

The downsized outlets may be the key to unlocking the full value of Target’s cheap-chic playbook. Urban sophisticates who lust after a Michael Graves teapot or a Jason Wu skirt have mostly had to traipse to the burbs to get their fix. “It’s like we’ve been dating long distance,” says Target Executive Vice President John Griffith, while conducting a guided tour of the unfinished Chicago store. “Now we’re going to be right in their backyard.”