Target on E. 14th is off the mark, many say

BY BOB KRASNER | The reactions from East Village dwellers to the imminent arrival of a Target store this summer on E. 14th St. at Avenue A pretty much got summed up in one of three ways: Disgust, resignation and, at best, tempered enthusiasm. 

Occupying 27,000 square feet, the chain’s newest outpost will be considerably smaller than the Herald Square location, which takes up 43,000 square feet. Target spokeswoman Erin Conway said the East Village store would be “locally relevant,” selling home items, apparel, technology products and a “multicultural assortment” of health and beauty products.

A workman put the finishing touch on signage for a new Target store coming in at 500 E. 14th St., at the corner of Avenue A. Photo by Bob Krasner

“I’d much rather have back the Woolworth’s that used to be on that block!” said Michael, a 40-year East Village denizen who lives around the corner and, like several others interviewed for this article, didn’t want to give his last name. “Kids around here seem to vastly prefer suburban chains, though,” he said. “So, I imagine the ‘mini’-Target will do just fine without me.”

Those “kids” seemed surprised that a big-box store from suburbia was settling in. And not all of them were happy about it, even the ones who are fans of the store. 

“I worry about the consequences for local businesses,” said Joanna, a New York University graduate student, as she walked her dog through Tompkins Square Park.

“It’s convenient, but it’s not why I moved to the neighborhood,” added Krysten. Rowena was worried for a different reason: She loves the place.

“We were just talking about how it’s good that there is no Target near us,” she said. “That’s dangerous for me.”

Max Katz, 27, who  grew up on the Lower East Side, has no love for the retail giant. He sees it as another symbol of, for him, a downward trend in the community.

“The neighborhood I grew up in doesn’t exist anymore,” he lamented. “The family businesses are becoming more rare. I find myself having less and less of a stake in the neighborhood. I will not step foot in 7-Eleven, Starbucks or Target.”

Others who have lived through the area’s changes are more resigned to their fate.

“It goes with what’s going on,” shrugged musician Angel Olivieri. “A lot of stuff happens and there’s nothing I can do about it.”

Susan Balcunus didn’t seem to mind either, noting that 14th St. is already very commercial. Plus, she offered, “New York City has become a mall for quite some time now, so the shock to me is essentially over. Target…Trader Joe’s… not so bad.”

Godlis, a well-known photographer and longtime East Villager who famously chronicled the punk years at CBGB, was less than enthusiastic.

“I like Target,” he admitted. “I go there when I’m out of town. But I don’t know if I want one on Avenue A.”

Even the out-of-towners are not exactly thrilled about it.

“I’ve got a Target in New Jersey,” said Doug, a teenager from across the river. “That’s not why I come to the East Village.”

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