Target Lovers Line Up for Bargains: ‘I Can’t Believe It’s Here!’
By Debra Lordan
There seems to be much aloha on Maui for its newest store.
The Valley Isle’s long-awaited Target opened to an enthusiastic public on Wednesday, March 4, 2015. Seemingly not phased by rain and a flood advisory, an estimated 300 shoppers arrived early for the 8 a.m. opening at Puʻunēnē Shopping Center.
Although many shoppers remained in their cars until the doors opened, at 7:45 a.m., approximately 90 people were lined up against against the building, clutching umbrellas to shield them from the downpour. But when the doors opened promptly at 8 a.m., a steady stream of customers filed through the doors for nine minutes.
Some arrived as early as 6 a.m. to be among the first to pull into one of the 740 parking stalls and purchase merchandise at one of the store’s 18 checkout stands.
Loretta Gresham and Lori Wilhelm were two of those early birds.
“The only things we can see through the door are Starbucks, womenswear and jewelry,” Gresham said with enthusiasm.
Wilhelm is from Oʻahu, but was born on Maui, “so,” she said, “we wanted to come to the first Target on Maui!”
Among other early birds were Kehaunani George with her son, BJ, age 4, and baby Nalani, 5 months. “We’re anxious to shop for anything and everything!” said Kehaunani. “And we’re coming back!”
“It’s like Black Friday!” said Sally Quijano. “We’re excited!
Danielle Madaus, her infant son, Merrick, “Nana” Nancy Flower, arrived just as the store opened.
“It’s very organized,” commented Flower. “We like everything about Target. We especially like the $1 to $3 items,” she said, referring to Target’s One Spot area. “Wherever we go we go to Target, so we are very excited to have one here.”
Although everyone seemed to be enjoying their Target experience, several shoppers declined to be interviewed because they either called in sick to work, were going to be late getting to their jobs or were employees of a Target competitor.
Among anonymous comments were, “I can’t believe it’s finally here!” “It’s a one-stop shopping experience!” “This is amazing!”
“We are really excited to offer Maui this Target store, and I know the community is excited,” said Target Store Team Leader Scott Hayes, who most recently opened stores on Hawaiʻi Island and in Alaska. “Considering the rain out there and how long the line was, I am really impressed with the turnout this morning.”
Hayes detected an “if we build it, they will shop” attitude from Maui residents early on.
“I have talked to people here who said they have been in Target stores on the Mainland and they absolutely love the merchandise, so they are very happy to be able to buy it here now,” said Hayes.
“This soft opening gives the team four days to get up to speed before the Grand Opening on Sunday, March 8,” said Hayes at Tuesday’s media event. “They’re still new, this is a new environment and there is still a learning process. But tomorrow morning, we start our journey!”
A new employee eager to embark on that journey is Brent Hedani, who became a sales floor executive team leader at the new Target as the result of a career fair at the University of Hawaiʻi Maui College that drew about 400 potential employees. It was there that he met Hayes. After and interview and participation in a 90-day internship at the Target in Kapolei on Oʻahu, he received a job offer at the Maui Target, and went on to executive-in-training program.
The store will eventually employ approximately 250 team members. About 90 percent of them will be Maui residents. The store is still hiring part-time team members.
Target offers urban living essentials, on-trend fashions and exclusive designer collections, such as Ava & Viv. The first designer collaboration will be with Lilly Pulitzer. The merchandise will be available in Target stores in April.
The store gives shoppers the opportunity for a one-stop-shopping mix of customized merchandise that includes local produce and a variety of local products that includes beauty oils and lotions, coffee, cookies, candy, fresh lei and aloha shirts.
Target has an expanded fresh food layout with a complete assortment, including fresh produce, fresh meat, and pre-packaged baked goods along with a deeper assortment of dry, daily and frozen items.
The 140,000-square-foot store also houses the following departments: activewear, automotive, baby and toddler, bath, beauty, bedding, girls and boys, Starbucks, a Pizza Hut, a Target cafe, cars and party, electronics and entertainment, grocery, healthcare, home, home décor, home furnishings hosiery, household supplies, intimates and sleepwear, jewelry and accessories, kitchen, maternity, menswear, personal care, pet care, pharmacy, school and office, shoes, sporting goods, storage and organization, toys and games, travel and womenswear.
Maps are available at the entryway to the store.
The store receives shipments twice a week, and plans to keep its two-story warehouse well stocked with state-of-the art tracking systems to make sure fast-moving items are replenished.
“The thing that’s great about Target is, because we have such a diversity of products, you can come in for two things on your list and leave with a whole lot more,” said Target media contact Erika Winkles. “We offer a lot of convenience—the fresh food and everything—all under one roof.”
“I can’t tell you how many times I hear, ‘I came in here to buy $5 or $10 dollars worth of merchandise and instead left with $100 worth,’” said Hayes. “Customers also tell me that even if they don’t remember what they come in for, they never leave empty-handed.”
With such a huge selection of merchandise, it is easy to see how that happens.
At Tuesday’s media event, Mayor Alan Arakawa said he is confident that Target will be a “strong producer on Maui,” joking that his wife is a willing contributor to Target’s success.
The Grand Opening on Sunday, March 8, will include a ribbon-cutting celebration when the store opens at 8 a.m., special opening-day deals and Target mascot Bullseye shopping bag giveaways for the first to arrive.
Target’s hours of operation are Monday through Saturday, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. and from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Sundays. Food concessions close an hour before the store’s closing time.
Puʻunēnē Shopping Center is located at 100 Hookele St., near Zippy’s.