In the long and storied tradition of ceremonial and obligatory ribbon cuttings to welcome new businesses in the City of Falls Church, Tuesday night’s marking the opening of a new major national brand retailer, Target, was unusually festive. Mayor David Tarter was on hand to deftly negotiating the scissors, as usual, and most members of the City Council and Economic Development heavies were among the City’s A-listers present.
After the ribbon cutting at the entrance to the new store from its garage beneath the new Lincoln at Tinner Hill residences on S. Washington St., the doors were opened for the first time and over 50 civic leaders became giddy shoppers just like that. Asked what he’d buy on his first visit to the new store, Mayor Tarter told the News-Press, “I’m going to buy a shirt. You know that people have always complained that there’s no place to buy a shirt in Falls Church. Well, now you can!”
Indeed, men’s and women’s apparel and accessories are among the many, highly-varied choices available in the new Target store, even if it is a small-format version, tucked tightly into 26,000 square feet, compared to a full-sized Target, such as the ones in Merrifield and North Arlington, with over 100,000 square feet.
But Wednesday, March 7, marks the opening of the store to the public, with a public grand opening celebration set for Sunday, March 11.
Store manager Beth Thiesfeldt, an eight-year employee of the larger Target enterprise, was beaming with pride Tuesday night introducing the mayor for the ribbon cutting, and other City officials. The store is the latest game-changing addition to the City’s commercial retail base, following on the 2016 opening of the mega-Harris Teeter grocery a few blocks away and the BJ’s Warehouse on the City’s North Arlington border a few years ago (which does sell shirts, for the record).
The Target opening also overrides the disappointment of a major supermarket, Fresh Market, that pulled out after it was set to fill the location when the Lincoln and Tinner Hill project was launched. The bright new store, with a lot of windows that passers-by on S. Washington (Rt. 29) can peer into, will contribute much-welcomed new sales and other tax revenues to the City’s coffers, and will turn the location into a magnet for other retailers to fill the other vacant ground-floor storefronts of both the Lincoln and new Pearson Square complex across the street.
Thiesfeldt took pride in the Target team’s attention to providing the right mix of items in its store to appeal to the neighborhood in which it finds itself. “We’ve designed the choices we’ve put here for the residents who live above us, and across the street, and the wider Falls Church community,” she said. The array of selections include a home decor department, a kids’ and baby care section, a food and beverage department with mostly non-perishable items (the license is still in the works for beer and wine), a health and beauty section, an electronics department with tech accessories and entertainment items, a CVS pharmacy and order pickup section. “We want to be a one-stop shop for these kinds of things for our customers,” Thiesfeldt said.
Customers will be able to order items online that they come to pick up at the store, and soon they will be able to buy stuff at the store that can be delivered for them to their homes.
The small-format store is a new concept for Target, and there are existing such stores around the D.C. area in College Park, Rosslyn, and Bethesda, with other new ones coming Cleveland Park, Ivy City’s Hecht District and Ballston in the next couple years. Overall, the company employs 7,050 in 43 stores in the greater Washington, D.C. area. Overall, Target’s goal is 130 small format stores nationwide by 2019 out of a total of 1,826 Target stores.
At the new Falls Church store, there are 35 employees, with the exception of the “leadership team” of five, all hired from among local applicants at the location in the last couple of months. The store marked its opening with the announcement of $6,000 donations to three local non-profits, Creative Cauldron, the Seven Corners Children’s Center and Computer CORE.
Located at the main entrance to the store is the historic arch commemorating Falls Church as the location of the first rural chapter of the NAACP in the U.S.