Hundreds of local officials, dignitaries and shoppers who happened to be in the right place at the right time Tuesday were treated to a sneak peek of La Cañada’s new Target store during a special preview event.
The preview of the 45,865-square-foot “small-format” store was the culmination of a long effort to find a solid retail occupant for the Town Center space left vacant after the 2016 closure of La Cañada-founded Sport Chalet.
Visitors and employees crowded by the entrance in a ribbon-cutting ceremony held to announce Target’s membership in the La Cañada Flintridge Chamber of Commerce and mark the store’s soft opening.
“It’s been a long time coming for our town, and we couldn’t be more thrilled,” said Mayor Terry Walker. “This, with our new City Hall, is going to rejuvenate the Town Center and make it a real civic center in our community”
State Sen. Anthony Portantino arrived at the ceremony with his red Target card in hand.
“I’m really, really excited, as a Target shopper, to welcome you,” the senator said. “I can’t wait to shop here.”
While a celebratory grand-opening event is set for Sunday, Oct. 21, the store is now open to the public.
In Tuesday’s crowd, 22-year-old La Crescenta resident Eddie Vivas was eager to begin his first day of work handling security at the La Cañada store.
“Most people who’ve done security started as a regular team member and were asked to move up,” Vivas said. “I just wanted to start here and see where I could go.”
Once the ribbon was cut, employees greeted guests as they perused aisles offering groceries, electronics, personal items and clothing. Store team leader Geoff Weaver, who grew up in La Cañada and has worked for Target for four years, said he was thrilled to oversee a store from build-out to opening.
“This is definitely a new experience,” Weaver said. “We’ve been prepping and planning for it for about three months now. Now we get to actually run our business and provide the La Cañada Flintridge community a great place to shop.”
Taking advantage of a one-day closure of La Cañada High School from a power outage, 13-year-old Bianca Cugno was hanging out nearby when she and her friends learned of the preview.
In the clothing section, her free canvas Target bags filled with promotional items and snacks, Cugno acknowledged resident concerns about increased traffic around the city’s Town Center area.
“Some people don’t like it because it kind of gets rid of the small town feel,” she said of the presence of a national retailer. “But I think it’ll be fun. We live up the street, and now we can just come and get things we need.”
The city Planning Commission will evaluate parking and traffic issues after Target has been open for six months to see if and where adjustments need to be made. Until then, officials are hopeful the new arrival will be more of a boon than a burden.
“The store looks great,” said Mayor Pro Tem Len Pieroni. “I think it’s going to provide a great service to the community and, obviously, the sales tax is going to help. But it’ll be interesting to see what the impacts are going to be.”
Pat Anderson, president and chief executive of the La Cañada Flintridge Chamber of Commerce, called the opening a major accomplishment.
“I liken it to planning a big wedding,” she said. “You work and work, and there are a lot of moving parts and a lot of people are involved. Then you get to the final day and you just glow.”