Rendering of planned TargetExpress store in Rosslyn. (Coutesy of Target)
Rendering of planned TargetExpress store in Rosslyn. (Coutesy of Target)

Target said Wednesday that it will open one of its small, convenience-focused TargetExpress stores in Rosslyn this year, a part of the retailer’s push into dense, urban areas.

The store is set to open in October and will be located at 1500 Wilson Blvd.

David Best, Target’s vice president of new formats, said the Rosslyn location was selected because of the mix of customers the company can target in the growing cluster of office buildings, apartments and condominiums near the Metro station.

“There’s a really strong daytime population, there’s residents that are nearby, there’s commuters that are passing through, and we saw it as an opportunity to go into an area that’s, frankly, a little bit underserved,” Best said.

The TargetExpress concept is the big-box retailer’s new experiment for unlocking fresh sales growth from neighborhoods where it wouldn’t be practical to put up a sprawling superstore. TargetExpress stores are typically about 20,000 square feet, a small fraction of the 135,000 square feet a regular Target typically gobbles up. The retailer plans to open eight of them nationwide this year, including a previously announced store on Baltimore Avenue in College Park.

The expansion of TargetExpress is part of the mega-retailer’s plan to bounce back from a tough stretch that included a data breach that wounded customers’ trust and a botched expansion into Canada that was ultimately shuttered. Under chief executive Brian Cornell, who started at Target last August, there have been early signs of a turnaround: Traffic to Target stores rose in the most recent quarter, and sales were up 4.1 percent.

Target is not the only major retailer that sees potential in small-footprint stores. Its chief rival, Wal-Mart, has accelerated the expansion of its Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market and Wal-Mart Express concepts. Wal-Mart has said it sees these formats — not its iconic supercenters — as the key to its short-term growth. Last week, Whole Foods also announced it plans to open a small-format organic grocery store that caters to millennial shoppers.

With TargetExpress, the retailer is aiming to be a go-to destination for the “fill-in trip,” when you just need a few essentials but don’t have time for a major shopping outing. That’s why executives say they are betting that the new stores won’t simply cannibalize business from their existing big-box stores.

“Guests are going to our bigger stores in the suburbs on the weekend. This is going to help them during the week,” Best said.

With each TargetExpress store, the retailer is tailoring the merchandise to the customers it expects to attract from a particular neighborhood.


Rendering of planned TargetExpress store in Rosslyn. (Coutesy of Target)

In Rosslyn they plan to offer a Starbucks counter and a grocery area with grab-and-go snacks and sandwiches that they expect will appeal to commuters. There will also be a tech area that features GoPro cameras and tablets, as well as an apparel section. Since Target heard from many local shoppers that they bike to the office or hit the gym before or after work, the clothing section will include workout gear such as their C9 by Champion line.

Best said shoppers can expect to see key differences in the College Park and Rosslyn stores. The College Park location will be curated with University of Maryland students in mind, so the home-goods area will emphasize dorm room decor and organizers for small spaces. In Rosslyn, meanwhile, the home-goods section will contain items designed for apartment living or offices. There will also be differences in the food aisles, since college students are likely looking to stretch every dollar, while young professionals might be more included to look for healthy items they can eat on the go.