According to Franco Realty Group in Pacific Beach, Minneapolis-based Target took over the 18,000-square-foot Antique Center at 4864 Newport Ave. on April 20. Target says OB is among the sites it is considering.
City officials, however, said the Target deal hinges on a shared parking agreement yet to be worked out between the corporation and South Beach Bar and Grill restaurant at 5059 Newport Ave.
Also, as of May 7, an online petition on change.org, seeking to keep Target out of OB, was more than halfway – 2,559 signatures – to its 5,000-signature goal.
The battle over a corporation entering the mom-and-pop-centric Ocean Beach market is reminiscent of a similar battle the community waged in 2001. Back then, an unsuccessful attempt was made to prevent Starbucks entering the beach market.
Will the end result be different now?
Paul Bearce, co-owner of the 41-year-old renowned OB printer, The James Gang, which recently returned to Newport Avenue, hopes so. James Gang has been all-in on the protest from the start, doing a brisk business selling “No OB Target” starting last July and “Boycott Target” T-shirts more recently.
Bearce spoke for some in the community in saying that, this time around, the community is truly drawing a line in the sand. He said the corporate opposition is reflective of the beach community’s will.
“I’ve been to public meetings attended by 125 people where they asked how many people were in favor of Target, and maybe half a dozen people raised their hands,” Bearce said pointing out, even if everyone in favor didn’t raise their hands, that still constituted “only a small percentage.”
Bearce fears Target in OB would change the community’s character.
“They have a Target two miles from here [in Midway],” said Bearce, arguing the corporation “is forcing their way into our community,” while adding, “It’s going to change the fate of OB, one of the last true beach communities left.”
Regarding the outcome of the previous Starbucks protest, Bearce noted, “They didn’t have social media back then, which is really strong now.”
The Ocean Beach Town Council recently drafted a letter supporting opposition to, and boycotting of, corporate Target coming to OB.
“The communications we received have been mainly opposed to the presence of Target Express … The OBTC believes small, locally owned businesses are vital to maintaining the strong fabric of the OB community and are a primary reason residents remain and tourists return year after year to visit our shores and stores. The OBTC urged the owners of the Antique Mall to seriously consider options other than leasing the space to the second-largest discount store retailer in the U.S.”
“Further, we fully support the Ocean Beach Planning Board’s decision to oppose any future permits for the off-site sale of alcohol across the OB planning area including the proposed Target location,” continued Turner’s OBTC letter. “OBTC would implore Target to respect and support our community with a community-benefits agreement addressing the following issues: offer no products for sale already available elsewhere in OB or that would be in direct competition with our local independent businesses; keep sidewalks and alleyways surrounding the business free of litter, graffiti, and loitering; dedicate 5 percent or more of profits derived from the OB storefront to directly benefit our community; limit the impact of corporate branding and storefront signage; improve infrastructure surrounding the property to mitigate the effects of increased traffic, deliveries and parking congestion; commit to hiring local residents into primarily full-time positions with living wages and benefits; and submit to a semi-annual review of adherence to these standards."
A Target Express is a downsized version of the original Target store introduced by the chain across the nation in numerous sizes and assortments. The business model is meant to create a more locally relevant big-box experience in urban areas.