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Brooklyn’s on Target

The Brooklyn Paper
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The lighting was unflattering and the margaritas overly sweet, but nobody seemed to notice at the star-studded opening in Downtown Brooklyn of one of the nation’s largest Target department stores.

Yes, Target.

Even executives from the Minnesota-based chain said they had never before seen anything like it.

That’s because most of their store openings don’t include a cadre of tattooed hipsters or an albino Burmese python, let alone a sprinkling of celebrities.

In preparation for their — and the Atlantic Terminal mall’s — grand opening at Atlantic and Flatbush avenues this Sunday, Target invited several hundred media darlings, bold-faced names and Coney Island’s Circus Sideshow to its 192,000-square-foot, two-level emporium, a space in which everything from bicycles to organic eggs will be sold.

[The mall will open to the public at 10 am on Sunday, July 25, for a grand opening celebration that will continue until 3 pm.]

Comedian Sandra Bernhard, the evening’s master of ceremonies, welcomed guests to the sparkling new aisles in her own special way.
“Look at this alarm clock,” she said, pointing to one shopper’s merchandise. “You’ve been oversleeping, you’ve been laying up on your lazy fat Brooklyn ass. And look at what you got tonight, you got yourself an alarm clock. Ooohh child, you be waking up. I feel good, I got an alarm clock at Target.”

Bernhard then briefly boomed her own rendition over Janis Joplin’s “Mercedes Benz.”

“If Janis Joplin were still alive she would be here shopping at Target,” Bernhard said, referring to the ’60s rock singer who died of a drug overdose more than 30 years ago.

DJ Paul Sevigny, who often plays on the Lower East Side and lives in Manhattan, was responsible for the evening’s music and set up his turntables across from the escalator and near the girl’s clothing section.

“Target’s cool. I’m down with Target,” Sevigny, the brother of actress Chloe Sevigny, said when asked about how he felt about working for a major chain store.

Instead of heading down the red carpet, arriving celebrities paused for photographers in front of a Target red-and-white backdrop where some petted and posed with the company’s mascot, “Bullseye” the dog.

Stars later struck poses on the escalator, in front of “Sponge Bob” underwear, and Brita filter displays.

“What are you wearing?” one fashion reporter asked Chloe Sevigny as she made her way into the mall.

“Chanel.”

“Are you wearing any Target?” a reporter wanted to know.

“Not yet,” said Sevigny, who was later spotted with a shopping cart filled with “panties and hangers” but said she was most excited about a black-and-white umbrella.

Other Manhattan scenesters also headed to Target in cars provided by the store, although one PR flack who actually came on the subway, noted, “I couldn’t believe it was one stop from Manhattan.”

The $150 million Atlantic Terminal mall is built over the Atlantic Avenue subway and commuter rail hub with 10 subway lines and the Long Island Rail Road converging there.

Many shoppers said they knew somebody who knew somebody who scored them an invite to the event. Others said they received invitations in the mail.

But before opening the doors at 8 pm, organizers made it clear to those gathered outside that if you didn’t have an invite and weren’t on the list, you weren’t getting in.

One woman, with spiked hair and rhinestone-studded teeth, showed off a great deal she had found on Ziploc bags.

At the same time, emcee Bernhard continued to do her best to offend as many as possible.

“Where are our Arab-American friends tonight? I see nobody of Muslim descent — that is a crying shame. There are beautiful designer Burkas around the corner, $59.99. Tell your Arab friends to come down, if they’re feeling uncomfortable, they can feel free to shop here at Target,” Bernhard said.

“She’s not exactly on the Target message,” remarked one spokeswoman.

Fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi, who has a line for the store made an appearance along with actors Maggie Gyllenhaal, Alan Cumming and supermodel Sara Ziff.

Even Fort Greene Councilwoman Letitia James, an ardent foe of the mall’s developer, Bruce Ratner, because of his plan to build a basketball arena across the street from the new mall, couldn’t find enough good things to say about the place.

“This is wonderful. It’s massive. It’s everything you could possibly want in your mall,” said a beaming James.

She quickly added, “It’s just on this that we agree.” James hosted a press conference on the steps of the City Hall the following morning denouncing the Atlantic Yards arena and office tower project.

Opening in the four-level mall Sunday will be Target, Daffy’s clothing, Bath & Body Works, McDonald’s, Rockaway Bedding, GameStop, Carver Savings Bank, DSW shoe outlet and Chuck E. Cheese children’s party facility.

Other stores and offices opening in the near future include Starbuck’s (in addition to a small Starbuck’s inside Target), Avenue, Mandee, The Children’s Place, Coldstone Creamery, Payless ShoeSource, Verizon Wireless, Houlihan’s, Guitar Center, Men’s Wearhouse, Mrs. Fields/TCBY and Atlantic Terminal Dental.

As things wound down Tuesday night, revelers could be seen making their way down Flatbush Avenue in high-heeled shoes carrying large red-and-white Target bags.

Some even came out with brightly painted nails — Target was offering manicures in the cosmetics session.

A woman sporting a “Defend Brooklyn” T-shirt bought cat food and explained that her shirt was not an anti-gentrification commentary. A photographer from Williamsburg who bought sheets and gum was still contemplating whether or not he would come back.

In addition to calling it the first “metropolitan store” the company has ever opened, the new Target is also the first without a parking lot that customers can roll their carts onto. The nearest lot is across the street at Ratner’s Atlantic Center mall, long criticized for its terrible design. Target is on the opposite end of the mall from the Flatbush and Atlantic entrance and starts on the second floor, leaving shoppers to schlep their purchases.

“This, for us, is a real test,” said Derek Jenkins, a Target regional vice president.


Updated 4:00 pm, November 10, 2010
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