Expanded grocery Target of remodel

Store tried to keep customers happy during transition
by: staff photo by ANNE ENDICOTT From left, Chanice McDermott, Alycia Monttoya (in hat) and her son, John, 2,  are greeted by  Banana-man, AKA Cameron Sulkosky, Fairview Target manager. The women recently moved to Gresham from California and were thrilled to find the expanded grocery.

Bananas and bacon and baked goods - oh my!

The Fairview Target officially unveiled its expanded grocery department Sunday, Oct. 9, and stepped into the competitive market of one-stop shopping.

'Customer comments told us our guests wished we had fresh produce and groceries,' said Cameron Sulkosky, store manager. 'We want to save our guests time and money by offering them everything they need in one place,' he said. 'We listen to them because it's really all about guest services for us.'

The grand opening for Target's grocery department marks the end of a yearlong overhaul of the retailer's 12 stores in the Portland-Vancouver region. With the exception of the Gateway store in Portland, all area Targets have been spiffed up with new carpet, lower shelves and a trendy look. The end result is a design that makes shopping easier because of a new floor plan and convenient product placement.

Expanding a business is rarely an easy transition for store employees and customers. Remodeling is often fraught with shoppers' confusion as products are moved and some services are temporarily interrupted.

But Target used customer feedback and design prototypes to streamline the process and completed the job in Fairview in just 13 weeks. Temporary walls were erected to conceal construction and the physical rearrangement of departments was conducted overnight.

'Every time we've done a remodel, we've gotten better about it,' Sulkosky said. 'We don't want to impact our guests because we want them to feel special when they're here, with a clean environment.'

Unlike a Super Target, which houses a full-service deli and bakery onsite, the Fairview store features an 'expanded grocery' section that includes fresh produce and fruits and pre-packaged meats. Aisles were lengthened by 4 feet and refrigerator capacity increased from 77 freezers and coolers to nearly 100. Additionally, in an effort to save guests' time while shopping, some products have been relocated into departments with compatible items.

'We consolidated products that were once standalone items,' said Shauna Beach, executive team leader for the remodel. 'Light bulbs are in with lamps, candles are in home décor. It saves our guests time because it's easier to find everything. And more shelf and freezer space allows us to bring in a bigger assortment to meet our guests' needs.'

The larger grocery section may be getting all the attention, but the entire store boasts a new look. Walls are now covered in Target's signature red and white colors and shelves outside grocery are shorter for more visibility. The shoe department and beauty section were updated with new fixtures and lighting and shoppers are taking fewer steps to find what they need.

'Everything is grouped together now so it's more logical for guests,' Sulkosky said. 'They can shop for apparel on one end of the store, if that's what they're looking for, and work their way through the store to get whatever else they need. It's more systematic.'

With fuel costs being what they are, most folks are seeking ways to bundle their errands into one trip. For Gresham resident Melinda Morgan, who shops at Target for household essentials and cleaning supplies, the expanded grocery section was a surprise that turned into a time saver.

'I found a recipe for pulled pork, and they had pork loin, so I didn't have to go somewhere else,' she said. 'I like the grocery section, and I'll probably use it a lot. The produce was fresh and that will draw me here. The prices are good too.'

Annually, 5 percent of Target's income is returned to local schools and charities. But in a tough economy, Sulkosky said, the most productive way to support a community is to employ residents.

'It's a win-win for everybody,' he said. 'We hired around 50 people for this expansion, and we're hoping to bring more people on as we grow.'