I usually don’t write about what comes in the mail — particularly since there’s not much left running through the U.S. postal system system but magazines, bills and junk.
Yet here we are, thumbing through the 20-page booklet mailed out to homeowners by Target, which just completed a major refurbishing of its store in our area, and announcing the arrival of its new, expanded food section.
I haven’t been to my local store yet, but I have a good idea what we’ll find. Indeed, just a few weeks ago, a good part of the parking lot was cordoned off, full of shipping containers and work stations. At one point, workers could be seen wrestling with a giant, circular sign that seemed destined for the ceiling as some sort of design element.
The booklet — which includes a peel-off coupon card for a dozen free Grade A large eggs, as well as other coupons for food and durable goods — features branded and private label products across all categories. It explains its three store brands: Archer Farms, “unexpected flavors and premium selections on your table;” Sutton & Dodge, “steakhouse quality at great prices;” and Market Pantry, family favorites that are “priced amazingly low.”
There are no call-outs for health and wellness or natural and organic, though the photos and product descriptions include Archer Farms Organic Blue Corn Tortilla Chips ($2 for a 14-ounce bag); Simply Orange orange juice ($2.99 for a 59-ounce bottle); and Campbell’s Select Harvest soups ($1.50 for a 15.25-ounce bowl).
Green cleaners are featured on a subsequent page, where the retailer’s Up & Up private label green apple-scented dish soap ($2.39 for a 25-ounce bottle) is pictured.
There are plenty of fresh, healthful choices among the nine tear-off coupons in the back coverfold: $1 off a 3-pound bag of Market Pantry gala apples; $1 off 2-pound packages of red or green seedless grapes; and $1 off Dole bagged salad mixes.
Target’s timing in opening renovated stores in this area is fortuitous. At Supermarket News, our print publication, we’ve been covering the profound difficulties being experienced by A&P, Montvale, N.J., which — with its A&P, Food Emporium, Pathmark and Food Basics banners — pretty much dominates the New York metro area. Given the saturated, urban/suburban real estate situation, there’s been little new competition flowing into the region. Trader Joe’s has been building some units, and there are already a few Wal-Marts and Whole Foods Markets, but building from the ground up is difficult (though not impossible), especially for retailers requiring a large footprint.
Renovating existing operations is the way to go around here, and Target has hit the retail bulls eye with its wholesale investment in food sales. It's spent the past year bulking up its assortment, revamping its private labels and generally sprucing up its image.
If some industry observers are to be believed, who knows? Target might soon be moving into whatever properties A&P starts selling — it that's the direction the latter retailer takes.