Addition of Target to Fordham Road raises questions for local economy and small businesses

Bronx-Target-Fordham-Road
Target has been aggressively expanding in NYC, and it’s set-to-open Fordham Road location is one of 30 new Target stores opening in 2022.
Photo courtesy Target

Big box retailer Target will officially open its doors to the Bronx’s commercial center Fordham Road on Tuesday, and Target officials are hoping to make an economic impact as the holiday season looms.

The northeast corner of East Fordham Road and Valentine Avenue was once home to Dr. Jay’s, a local urban fashion store renowned for low prices that closed its doors due to high rents in February 2020.

Target’s addition to Fordham Road should provide a much-needed, local economic boom, as Target is the eighth-largest retailer in the United States and hires around 22,000 team members throughout 95 NYC-based locations, according to the company.

“We’re excited to bring the joy of Target to new guests and help them discover a unique shopping experience tailored to the needs of the Bronx community,” said Jonathan Baldera, store director of the new Bronx Target.

Target witnessed unprecedented levels of growth during the pandemic, and this year Target invested up to $5 billion in expanding its digital and physical storefront presence through 200 remodels of its existing stores and the opening of 30 others, including the Fordham Road location.

The retailer is hoping to not only make a commercial presence in the Fordham area but a local one as well, with 100 team member jobs added to the local workforce.

Target’s goal is to also build a relationship with its community, donating more than $600,000 in cash and product donations to area nonprofits and food to local food banks in 2021. In efforts to foster a relationship with residents, a Target spokesperson told the Bronx Times they will make a donation to the local branch of the New York Public Library.

And at their Oct. 23 grand opening in Fordham Plaza from 10 a.m.-4 p.m., the store will be giving away free gifts and food vouchers to use during the event, as well as round-trip MTA cards.

Fordham Road continues to attract big retailers to its business corridor despite business owners telling the Bronx Times that retail theft is on the rise. In August, one smash-and-grab saw almost $2.15 million from Webster Avenue’s Rocco’s Jewelry.

Mojib Ullah, a manager at a nearby clothing store, says he’s been working in the area 13 years and has never seen local crimes of today’s magnitude and frequency.

Many blame the effects of the pandemic on the area — 34% of nearby residents in Fordham and University Heights live in poverty —and businesses have told the Bronx Times theft and high rents make life on Fordham Road a challenge for the commercial district’s smaller businesses.

Fordham Road residents and businessowners have also been busy trying to ward off Mayor Eric Adams’ and the city Department of Transportation’s plan to convert segments of Fordham Road to bus and delivery-only – a move that NYC Councilmember Oswald Feliz said would impact small businesses on Fordham Road and Arthur Avenue.

Target’s October opening is perfectly timed with the upcoming holiday season, and Target CEO Brian Cornell says the retailer’s data predicts shoppers will spend solidly during the all-important holiday season despite “unusual” economic times in the U.S.

“We continue to see a healthy guest shopping in our stores and shopping online,” Cornell said at the Yahoo Finance All Markets Summit on Monday. “We’ll see how (shoppers) react throughout the holiday season, but when we talk to them they continue to say they want to celebrate the holidays.”

Inflation hit Target hard in 2022, as their operating income declined 43% year-over-year, which the company said was a result of shifting consumer spending away from discretionary goods to other categories like travel.

Reach Robbie Sequeira at [email protected] or (718) 260-4599. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes

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