SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) Target is coming to South Burlington. Company officials announced Thursday that they will open their first store in Vermont at the University Mall.
Reporter Cat Viglienzoni: What was your reaction just now when I told you that Target was going to come in?
Colleen Michell/Colchester: I was just like, 'Shut up! Like really? Target?' I'm very excited about it.
"Oh, it's about time. I'm very excited to have a Target here. We need it desperately," said Sandy Bachand of Georgia.
"I'm psyched. I've been waiting for Target to come to Vermont for a long time," said Laura Gerry of South Hero.
News of Target's arrival set the University Mall buzzing Thursday afternoon. Bon-Ton's lease is up at the end of January -- and Target plans to be in by October 2018.
"Target is premiere property, and any community or any high retail volume location would want to have a Target there," said Kevin Dorn, South Burlington's city manager. Dorn says the big-box retailer chose that spot because it was close to the interstate, a large population, and public transit. And it wasn't a controversial site. "As we all know, the past history of locating large retail in Vermont has hit roadblocks and has put people at odds with one another."
Dorn calls Target's arrival a "significant boost" to the developing city center and its tax revenue -- good for the city's bottom line. The city is moving forward to create a downtown, but the mall is in foreclosure, and plans to bring UVM's new athletic arena here didn't pan out. The mall needed something to revitalize it, and Dorn says this is it. "We all look around the country and see failing malls. Target will sustain this mall and help it to grow and be vital, and that helps all of the tenants in the building," he said.
At least one mall business owner agrees. After Midnight Jewelers owner Scott Richardson says, he's been here for 28 years and seen fewer shoppers and Target might just hit the mark. "The mall has needed a new tenant for a long time. I'm very excited about it," he said. "It'll hopefully return foot traffic to the mall, which is something we all look forward to, you know?"
People we asked said having Target would bring them here more often. So what's the appeal?
"It's like a classier WalMart," Gerry said.
"yeah, I think they have a lot better deals," said Jared Forsythe of South Hero.
"The prices -- the endcaps where you can always find a great deal on the endcaps. And then you know, African-American hair products, so it's awesome that Target is coming here. Or as Wendy Williams says -- "tar-jay."
Some viewers on Facebook expressed concerns about traffic once Target moves in. The South Burlington city manager said they're making a few improvements in the area to help traffic flow, but he also pointed out that the mall in the past had higher traffic than it does now.