As he helped snip a ceremonial ribbon on a gleaming new Target store a block from Fenway Park, former 16-year Red Sox knuckleballer Tim Wakefield marvelled at how the store's contributed to and put an exclamation mark on the transformation of the once-grungy neighborhood.
"You know, when I first got here in 1995, this place was nothing. There was no housing, no apartments," said Wakefield, an honorary Red Sox Foundation chairman. "This place is absolutely stunning. Really, you should be proud of yourselves."
At 160,000 square feet -- four acres of floor space -- this is the biggest "City Target" the Minnesota-based national chain has ever opened. Located at Boylston and Kilmarnock Streets, it's got everything from groceries to furniture, clothing, electronics, an optical shop and pharmacy and its own Starbucks
Don Aldridge, the "team leader" and chief of the store, said the way the store's been stocked is different from classic Target big box stores. "We know most guests are walking, biking, or taking the T rather than driving" to come shop, Aldridge said. "Merchandise here is catered to the urban shopper. Think: a smaller pack of paper towels."
Target designer Todd Snyder said you can also find some only-in-Boston things here, such as "T-shirts that had 'wicked smaht' on it spelled like it sounds, just fun irreverent things that are different from what you'd find in a gift shop in an airport. The idea was really to give the customer something to take home that really kind of says 'Boston' to them."
To Mayor Martin J. Walsh's chief of staff, Daniel Koh, the size and inventory of this store dramatize how far Fenway's come from its past as a place filled with bars and overpriced parking lots. "Boston is such a thriving, healthy, and innovative city," Koh said, "and City Target is just yet another example of that."
With videographer Abbas T. Sadek