Don’t wait for a Target

Today’s blog post isn’t one I’m excited to write, but it’s one that is necessary.

We have a very well intentioned individual in our community, who has been circulating a petition, asking for Target to build a store in Fort Atkinson. I am thrilled that someone was willing to take the initiative to do this, and I share in their spirit of wanting to see fresh retail economic development in Fort Atkinson, especially with the impending closure of our local Shopko location.

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However, I do not want to give residents a false hope that Target will be coming to Fort Atkinson. Here is a portion of an email our city manager received late last week, from Target’s Regional Real Estate Director.

Target’s new store growth strategy is focused on opening small format stores in the Top 10-12 metropolitan markets, and adding small format stores to key campuses and universities across the country.  While we still have a full-format new store program, these stores are only being opened in key strategic markets.

We continually monitor markets to understand changes in employment and population, new housing growth, shifts in retail nodes and retail competition, etc. … Unfortunately, many trade areas just don’t have large enough populations to support a store.

Kmart and Shopko store strategies reached into smaller and more rural areas – a strategy that Target never pursued.  While Fort Atkinson is a vibrant community, it’s population at 17,000 won’t support a store.

[Editor note: The 17,000 population figure includes townships surrounding Fort Atkinson.]

So there you have it. The reality is that Target won’t be coming to Fort Atkinson, at least for the foreseeable future.

I remain firmly convinced that future development in our city will be largely driven by individuals who already live and work in our community. While our city manager and I have been contacting various companies (we have reached out to approximately 25 different retailers), we have not received very promising responses thus far. This doesn’t mean we won’t keep trying.

I remain firmly committed to finding retail partners for our community. Fort Atkinson residents deserve to have varied shopping options. Let’s keep working together to come up with local solutions to this problem.