Opposition Grows to an Ocean Beach Target Express

by on July 10, 2017 · 20 comments

in Ocean Beach

Since the OB Rag broke the story on July 5th about Target looking to move one of its Express stores in the current Newport Avenue Antique Center on Newport Avenue, some other local mainstream media have picked it up.

Both ABC 10 News and CBS 8 carried the story, and in doing so confirmed its validity, and both reported on the concerns of residents and other businesses about a Target Express moving onto OB’s main commercial street. Many of the comments to our original post echo the worries and feelings of dread of those quoted in the TV station accounts.

A poll on an OB facebook on the issue involving over 500 respondents resulted in 70% opposed to the store, checking the box for “Terrible. Keep OB Local.” There’s also a Keep Target Out of OB petition.

Channel 10 reported a spokesperson from Councilwoman Lori Zapf’s office confirmed the effort by the corporate giant to purchase the property. And Channel 8 reported, according to the property realtor, Target “is at the top of the seller’s list.”

The focus of Channel 10‘s report was on the possible effect on local businesses by Target’s move. Jim Kase at Ocean Beach People’s Organic Foods Market was quoted about his worries.

“I’m sure we’ll take a hit. The result of a big chain like that coming in is that it kind of invites the other chains to come in.

Inside a busy Antique Center.

Kase expressed his concerns that the Target would force smaller businesses to close as they couldn’t compete with the giant.

“Are they going to go out of business? And how many other little storefronts are going to go out of business?”

Kase advocated buying local as the sole way to protect small businesses, and told the station:

“Think before you spend you spend your dollar. Think about that’s a vote, that’s a statement that you make. And don’t be fooled that just because it’s a big chain they’re cheaper.”

Other comments from locals in the Channel 8 and Channel 10 reports:

  • “Another box store is just not what a small community needs that thrives on being its own odd little community. And I like Target. I prefer that over a Walmart any day of the week.”
  • “I was a little taken aback. It’s kind of not the theme of OB whatsoever. More corporate than OB is at all. Starbucks is about as far as we go.”
  • “I am going to die inside if that really happens.”
  • “It’s too corporate for OB.”
  • Arlene Fink was quoted as saying she will fight to keep Ocean Beach local. “I am hoping that when people hear a Target is coming into our little neighborhood, Express or otherwise that they ban together.”

Channel 8 spoke to the realtor, Tony Franco with Franco Realty Group, who told the station that he had searched for a buyer, including reaching out to bowling alleys and grocery stores, like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods. He added:

“We reached out to Liberty Station and other major developers, it just does not make sense for them.”

Franco said the deal could take six months to a year. And as it were, the Newport Avenue Target Express would be a scaled down version of a typical full-box retail store – and would sell groceries and have a pharmacy.

This is part of the core of locals’ opposition to the giant, even if scaled-down. Reflecting Kase’s concerns, many worry that an Express would have significant negative effects on stores like the OB Hardware, which has been on Newport for over 50 years, or on the newly-opened Apple Tree Market just down a block.

The already visible and spirited opposition also brings echos of the unsuccessful effort in early August 2016 by 7-Eleven to open in the dry-cleaning business at Sunset Cliffs and Narragansett. Plus the parallel with the lengthy grassroots campaign to keep Starbucks out is routinely invoked these days. (See these accounts of the anti-Starbucks campaign, here, and here. )

In the face of so many who don’t want Target, the question is raised about the owner’s motivations. Craig Gerwig is the owner and he also sits on the board of directors of the Ocean Beach Main Street Association. Given the Mission Statement of the OBMA is “To promote and support local business and economic vitality in the Ocean Beach community,” one has to wonder how Gerwig could “support local business” while selling to Target.

The opposition to Target Express was plainly visible in the comments to our original post:

  • This will fundamentally change the character of Newport Ave. It must be stopped. It Target gets enough bad publicity from this they will be discouraged. Stay tuned for calls to action…
  • Corporate America should stay out of OB. Starbucks was bad enough. The charm dies when the money hounds show up. I love O.B., just have a look at my photo albums, but if a Target comes into O.B. I will not return.
  • There is simply not enough parking available to handle this type of business. And yes, it will detract from locally owned and operated businesses in O.B. NO!
  • The beginning of the end to OB. I’m utterly devasted that this is happening. I go to this Antique Mall once a week. Please say it ain’t so.
  • I’m sure there are some who think of convenience first, over and above community character. I am not one of them. I’ve lived here since ’62 and am absolutely unequivocally against any corporate presence on our three block long main drag. I know there will people who disagree, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t speak my mind. NO TO TARGET IN OB.
  • In my opinion this project is far worse for O.B. than Starbucks for which I never had opposition.
  • I am astounded that this would even be considered as this will fundamentally change the character of Ocean Beach, and not for the good. I’m all for progress and change when it enhances life. But Target?? Are you kidding me?
  • OB is meant for small business owners. Keep it to the locals!!! Leave OB alone!!!
  • This is a charming old community! Let corporate America go where the charm has already been removed! Leave our OB community as is…we love it just fine the way it is!
  • NOOOOOO!! That will Ruin OB!! Dang go anywhere else but OB!

Now, not everyone is opposed to the Target store. Here are some of the comments of those who are not opposed:

  • Let’s fight to keep this spot closed for years with blight because no non-corporate entity can afford to lease it! That idealism will truly show em! The selfish NIMBYism where you cut off your hand to spite your face here is amazing Get real. At least this will help middle class families and save gas on trips to midway.
  • There are many locals like myself who don’t drive much and prefer to walk or ride a bicycle, the lack of parking might promote less car use. I for one would welcome a modern clean store over the blighted antique shops.
  • A Target EXPRESS means it’s a scaled down version of the larger, eliminating the need for massive amount of parking. The charm of OB will never leave. It’s the people that have been here for decades, the great bars and restaurants and let’s not forget the Pacific Ocean! Calm down.
  • You all do know that prior to being a antique store- the building housed a general merchandise chain store called Coronet?
  • Not surprising in the slightest after seeing how well the Target Express in South Park went. Much more parking at that location though. OB will make a huge deal about it (change is scary and corporations are evil) but nobody will be able to come up with an idea for the property that the internet hasn’t already killed or more importantly that $6.5+ million for the space outright. I don’t expect this to go up without a fight from the people, I just don’t see the point.
  • The one that opened in South Park did not turn out the be the evil neighbor everyone thought it was going to be. Just about everyone I know who protested that store going in there (it replaced an IGA grocery store) now admit they are happy it’s there. It hasn’t changed the character of the area at all. What would you rather have go in there? Another bar/and or restaurant?
  • Yes Target Express will be corporate, albeit pseudo-hip millennial.
    Balanced against that, the primary audience they’ll serve will be residents of OB, with tourists a secondary market. No one will drive from elsewhere to shop at a tiny Target in OB. In contrast, the vast majority of the customers of the various antique shops are from outside of OB. I’m not against the antique stores, or bars & tasting rooms, or shops aimed at tourists, but having another business in OB to serve OB residents could be positive.
    To me, the cost/benefit of Target Express comes down to what will they actually stock in the store? Will they bring things to residents that complement what is already available in OB, saving us trips to Midway or beyond? What items have high enough turnover to be worth stocking in a tiny Target in OB?
  • We almost all purchase items from corporations. I think it does save auto trips. ( less environmental impact) Finally, if the store is exists and is being historically rehabilitated, then its a plus for Newport Ave. historic district. The physical buildings in the district is what matters. The tenant will be successful if the community finds it service valuable. If not, then the tenant will leave. The physical character of the building (s) is what should be reviewed. OB Planning needs to see this project.
  • I shopped at Cornet for years until it went out of business. There is no correlation between Cornet and Target. If you ever shopped there (Cornet) you know exactly what I’m talking about. That said, though I’m no fan of Rite Aide, it made no sense to open another store of this variety (CVS) in our community. I’m still trying to understand how that deal was made. CVS seems to be a ghost store with a scant number of shoppers so maybe it’s more of a tax right off for the CVS corp., but if Target opens, rest assured Rite Aide will suffer. As will O.B. Hardware, Olive Tree, Apple Tree et all.

There is no jurisdictional hearing or public review of this purchase. There is no legal reason it has to go before the OB Planning Board.

However, the OB Town Council and the Planning Board could both individually or together hold forums on this issue. That could be the next step.

{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

judi July 10, 2017 at 8:06 pm

I’d rather see a target than another drinking establishment.


Frank Gormlie July 11, 2017 at 10:28 am

Judi, well, at least the drinking establishment won’t card you like RiteAid did. hahaha


rick callejon July 12, 2017 at 3:05 pm

Target sells alcohol.


Chris July 13, 2017 at 9:20 am

I think Judy is referring to another bar and/or tasting room going in there. A Target would not more be a “drinking establishment” than a Trader Joes.


Daniel Smiechowski July 11, 2017 at 8:18 am

I am a candidate and 50 year resident of District 2 running for City Council. I will do everything possible to maintain the cultural flavor of OB without Target Express. Daniel Smiechowski 858 220 4613 Please attend my event on Bastille Day! Danny


Frank Gormlie July 11, 2017 at 11:48 am

Since the OB Rag published the link to the Petition against a Target in OB, more than 300 people have added their signatures.


OB Resident July 11, 2017 at 9:19 pm

Terrible one sided reporting Frank.

First off, the Apple Tree’s owner owns the real estate in South Park that leases to Target. Try doing some actual investigative research. So of course Apple Tree doesn’t want Target to come in, yet didn’t mind when he leased his store to Target.

Second, the owners of the Antique Center did everything correct: they hired a local agent, met with local businesses, and tried to preserve the Antique Center. The free market has spoken.

Since when are we against giving jobs to local residents? Target will hire at least 50 new jobs and the Antique Center has only 6-8 people.

Stop stirring up trouble.


Frank Gormlie July 12, 2017 at 10:07 am

This outspoken advocate of the so-called “free market” and self-titled “OB Resident” has an email address with the words “property” and “manager” with the zip of another community.


Nathaniel Gay July 15, 2017 at 11:32 pm

Ha! Get ’em!


Geoff Page July 12, 2017 at 11:31 am

OB Resident, how is reporting on something stirring up trouble? The comment sounds very t-rumpian.
The job of journalists is to shine a light on what is happening, if that causes trouble for some people, so be it. There was clearly a lot of community interest judging by the number of comments. As for the jobs… I remember when Target displaced Federated. The full time jobs became part time jobs so the corporation would not have to pay certain benefits. And where do you get all of your information, like the 50 t0 60 jobs? Seems like you have some inside information.


Chris July 13, 2017 at 9:23 am

I have to admit, if a Target Express is going to hire 50 people wouldn’t that make it too big to be an Express?


AF July 14, 2017 at 7:07 am

It can hardly be called “one sided reporting” when Frank included, “Now, not everyone is opposed to the Target store. Here are some of the comments of those who are not opposed:”


stu July 12, 2017 at 8:00 am

I just have a question. If you were given the site and the cash to develop it what would you put there? My first thought was maybe a brewery with a restaurant in it but we are already have lots of those .
It is a big space. Maybe it could be cut into up into smaller spaces. A target express with a little better architecture might make sense. Or maybe a theater of some sort or several theaters showing art films and relatively new releases.
I am open to any suggestions but a I don’t want a vacant building that will house trolls in the door way.


Marc Snelling July 12, 2017 at 10:19 am

A theatre in the Antique Center and a tourist store in the theatre?


Chris July 13, 2017 at 9:30 am

I am not totally against the idea of a Target Express (yes I’m in the minority), but honestly I would rather see it used as a sub divided multi use space.


Frank Gormlie July 12, 2017 at 10:26 am

Since we posted the Petition 3 days ago, over 500 people have added their signatures.


nostalgic July 12, 2017 at 3:53 pm

If you want to see Target’s image of Target Express:


Harry July 12, 2017 at 7:50 pm

I am agnostic about this. I have strolled the antique market many many times and have purchased a few items there. I am truly sorry to see them go. But I think the above post makes a good point. What is the alternative? I read the pro and con comments. The con seem to only protest without offering any alternatives. The pro at least make the argument that it will bring jobs, won’t add to the brewery list, etc. If the OB Rag has an alternative use, I can support it.


GaryGilmore July 14, 2017 at 10:33 pm

Many years ago that location was a Cornet department store, (Cornet is a corporate chain store) what they sold was very much like what Target will carry. The Cornet’s closing was a sad day for the community. Many lamented its demise. The OB community felt a great loss and was quite vocal about it. When the antique stores came in droves the OB community was upset that the shopping area was losing it’s diversity and many voiced their opposition . Now a business that will be a convenience for the locals will be moving in and there is resistance. Target runs a clean operation, they will be hiring many more people than the antique store employed. The business that will be impacted the most will be Rite Aid and CVS and, possibly, the $1 store on the corner of Bacon & Newport. I see Target as an asset to the neighborhood and I welcome their presence.


Nathaniel Gay July 15, 2017 at 11:44 pm

Target in OB…that’s gonna be a hard “pass” from me. We waited years for Apple Tree to come back (which they did) so we can have a local grocery store again, and we’ve already got two pharmacies; Target would bring nothing new or needed to OB.

I think breaking the space up for more small restaurants would be great. OB is a destination for outside dollars to visit, dine, and drink. The foot traffic on Newport on most nights is a testimony to that, and I think the neighborhood has reached max capacity for breweries.

Just my .02.


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