That was the message conveyed in a recent community letter on the behalf of Obecians urging Minnesota-based corporate Target not to put a proposed store in the 18,000-square-foot Antique Center building in the 4800 block of Newport Avenue.
“OB means community,” the letter reads. “It means local shops and lively culture. It means flare and it means funky, pride and positive vibes … not a Target Express on Newport Avenue directly threatening what it means to be OB. Join our fight to keep it out.”
The community letter also alleges: “This act of corporate intrusion violates the city-adopted Ocean Beach Community Plan in many ways, such as preserving the community character, supporting local business growth, promoting a pedestrian-friendly commercial district, and complying with parking requirements. Our mission is to uphold the charm and independence of Ocean Beach by preventing Target Express from opening and ruining our lovely enclave of awesome.”
A Target Express is a downsized version of the original Target store introduced by the chain across the country in a variety of sizes and assortments. The new store model is meant to create a more locally relevant big-box experience in urban areas.
There has been a lot of activity in OB discussing and/or protesting the arrival of a corporate target. On Wednesday, Oct. 4, during the Farmers Market, a community rally and press conference was held at the foot of Newport Avenue. And another two-hour community forum on the Target controversy was held Oct. 11 at OB Rec Center.
Kimmy McGinley, described by some as one of the leaders of the “No Target in OB” protests, was on the megaphone at the Oct. 4 evening protest at Newport and Abbot, which drew about 50 people holding signs and chanting.
“I’ve lived in OB for 15 years and am strongly opposed to a Target coming to OB,” said Jon Winn. “I go to the Farmers Market weekly to gather signatures for the boycott, and I can tell you that the anti-Target sentiment is strong to the tune of about 50 signatures per hour, consistently.”
After the protest rally, supporters submitted a letter with 778 signatures to Target, OB Town Council – and anyone who would listen.
“Target has said they reserve the right to reconsider, and were taking the community's feedback,” said McGinley, who added the argument against the corporate chain coming to town is a matter of economics.
“A Target would be a tragedy, upsetting local mom-and-pop businesses,” McGinley said. “They can't compete with [Target's] prices, and they don't have their buying power. As local mom-and-pop businesses suffer, our local economy suffers. The money that would go into a Target would not stay in our community, but go to a Minnesota corporation legally bound to make money for their shareholders. They don't care about our community.”
Noting “landlords have done everything correct,” Tony Franco, of Tony Franco Realty Inc., who is brokering the Target negotiations, said during the long hunt for new tenants in the prime Newport Avenue commercial space that, “We brought this deal to all types of businesses including bowling alley operators, breweries and other grocery stores such as Trader Joe's and Whole Foods, and received many offers to lease only a small portion of the space.”
Franco said it would have been too expensive to split the building up into four-to-six different smaller tenants.