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Bottom Line: West Lebanon Target apparently targeting fall opening

  • John Lippman. Copyright (c) Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Valley News Business Writer
Published: 4/17/2021 9:38:21 PM
Modified: 4/17/2021 9:38:21 PM

Hard-hatted and reflective-vested construction crews are busy at work at the former Kmart in West Lebanon to repurpose the space for a new Target store. But panting customers hoping to fill their red shopping carts with swimsuits, patio furniture or baby sunscreen in time for summer are probably going to be disappointed.

“We’ve been told sometime in the fall,” said Leann Cushman, department secretary in the Lebanon’s Planning & Development office who acts like an air traffic controller for building permits. “That’s the appropriate time for commercial businesses that want to be open in time for Thanksgiving.”

Target is spending $6.7 million to build an 86,800-square-foot store in the former Kmart, which the plaza’s owner, The Davis Cos., is dividing up between Target at the north end adjacent to the Joann fabric and crafts store and a Sierra outdoor apparel and gear store on the south end where the Sears appliance outlet used to be.

But at the same time Target has hired a national contractor to build out the interior and facing of the former Kmart space, Davis Cos. is spending $1 million to floodproof the entire plaza, as required by the city whenever projects in the flood plain reach a certain size. (The former Kmart store suffered extensive flooding damage during Tropical Storm Irene in 2011 and was closed for months while it underwent $2.5 million in repairs.)

A spokeswoman for Target said she had no information to provide at this time as to when the store would open in West Lebanon. The Davis Cos. did not respond to requests for comment. The construction crew foreman at the site referred questions to his employer, Whiting-Turner Contracting Co., which did not return messages.

Coming off a record year despite the pandemic and the long-term decline of brick-and-mortar retail stores and shopping malls, Target announced in March that it opened 30 new stores in 2020 and is planning to open 29 new small-format stores in 2021 as part of a goal to open 30 to 40 new small-format stores each year.

A “small-format” store, which averages 40,000 square feet — about one-third the size of a typical “full-scale” 130,000-square-foot Target — are specifically located in urban centers, near college campuses and “dense suburban cities” and described by the company as offering “specially curated product assortments and experiences designed to serve the students and (college) staff, as well as local professionals and residents of the surrounding community.”

But although Target is not yet specifying an opening date for the store, Target has posted under the “careers” tab on its website that it is seeking to hire an “assets protection team leader.” In a less jargon-filled era, this was known as the store detective.

Return of the mac, free with vaccination

If this isn’t an inducement to be vaccinated, I don’t know what is.

Blood’s Catering and Party Rental in White River Junction is offering a free meal of its award-winning macaroni and cheese to anyone who can show proof that they are now fully vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus.

The give-away coincides with — and, sure, promotes — Blood’s restarting its takeout food service, which the catering company launched last year but suspended over the winter. Blood’s pivoted to use its commercial kitchen as a way to keep employees working and to provide prepared meals for families stressed out by working at home and kids attending school remotely.

“We are restarting our takeout food service, and I wanted to do something good for the community and draw attention to the COVID vaccine now available,” Blood’s owner Brandon Blood said, acknowledging that he “kind of copied the idea from Krispy Kreme,” which is giving away free donuts to people who are vaccinated.

Blood said the offer, which he plans to run through the summer, is good for one 8-ounce carton of mac and cheese per person, although every member of a family is eligible. He estimates that the first week he gave away 30 cartons, or about 75% of all customers who ordered prepared meals to-go.

He notes proudly that the mac has taken home laurels from the Vermont Farmstead’s Vermont Mac and Cheese Challenge — first place in the People’s Choice category in 2018 and second place in the Judge’s Choice category in 2017.

The mac and cheese recipe is a closely guarded trade secret and given to Blood’s kitchen staff on a need-to-know basis.

But Blood did offer one key piece of his formulation: “The secret is there’s a whole lot of cheese in it.”

Contact John Lippman at jlippman@vnews.com.




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