Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Resident and officials explore the new Target in Central Square at a Tuesday ribbon-cutting ceremony. (Photo: Scott Eisen/AP Images for Target)

It’s in a soft opening. Though there was a ribbon-cutting Tuesday and a few residents sneaked in alongside city officials, and doors remain open, the new Central Square Target at 564 Massachusetts Ave. doesn’t have its grand opening until 8 a.m. Sunday, when free reusable bags will be distributed to the first 1,000 customers. It’ll be open seven days from from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m.

It’s ahead of schedule. In November 2015, development officials for the company told the Central Square Advisory Committee to expect a July 2017 opening.“The previous tenant moved out sooner than we anticipated, so we were able to expedite construction and the opening,” said Kristy Welker, of Target Communications.

The new bfresh grocer store in Davis Square stocks its bakery with goods from local bakeries such as Clear Flour and When Pigs Fly.

It’s part of wave of compact retail. Target has taken over the former Cort Furniture space, 21,000 square feet over two floors with groceries and grab-and-go items; health and beauty goods; some small electronics devices and entertainment accessories; and home products for urban apartments and condos. (A pharmacy didn’t make the final version.) It’s the Minneapolis company’s third small-format store in Greater Boston and will employ around 70 people – including about 40 Cantabrigians – but the second small urban market to open in a short time, following the 11,000-square-foot bfresh grocery store that opened Feb. 27 in Somerville’s Davis Square. Company publicists report that store “operating at a much higher volume than even the bfresh team expected. Many of the fresh items, especially, are selling out quickly as a result.” This is not only a good sign for a 12,600-square-foot grocery store discussed as part of litigated development of the former Edward J. Sullivan Courthouse in East Cambridge, but for Kendall Square, where residents have been pushing for a grocer and other basic services.

It’s customized. Some residents made it onto a locally themed mural painted by graphic artist Christopher DeLorenzo in the store. Look for city councillor Nadeem Mazen (with his old hairstyle, including man bun) on the wall, arm in arm with some friendly technology.

This is a big change for Central Square retail. The Target is a big get for Central Square, where residents have been calling for years for lower-priced, practical goods matching the needs of middle- and lower-income residents. (It’s also good for students in Harvard Square, where convenient shopping is limited mainly to CVS and a gourmet-style minimart.) But the inclusion of some goods could have ripple effects on retail neighbors, such as the Harvest Co-Op Market that sells groceries at 580 Massachusetts Ave., and even H Mart, the primarily Asian grocery store and food court at 581 Massachusetts Ave. One resident estimated Target prices at about a third less than at H Mart – itself such a success when it opened in April 2014 that the nearby Yoki restaurant blamed it for “dramatically” reducing its revenue, leading to its shuttering eight months later.