By Carla Zanoni
EAST HARLEM — Harlem-based rap legend Doug E. Fresh will kick off the opening of Target at the East River Plaza this month as part of the big box store's efforts to seem in touch with the neighborhood it will soon call home.
Swedish chef Marcus Samuelsson, who is due to open a restaurant in Harlem, will cater the launch party on July 20, which wil be complete with replica of the Apollo Theater’s stage. Samuelsson's line of housewares and clothing will be sold at Target later this month.
Target is also fine tuning its merchandise to reflect what it believes are the shopping needs and wants of its soon-to-be neighbors, the store said in a public statement.
“Target has tailored the store’s merchandise assortment to include a generous selection of multicultural offerings including Spanish language and Ebony greeting cards, Gospel and Latin music, Spanish language books and movies, religious candles and a large assortment of multicultural dolls,” a public statement from the box store read.
In addition, its “Harlem Designer Collections” will feature locals Isabel and Ruben Toledo.
Although stores at East River Plaza have had a hard time reaching goals to employ East Harlem residents, the steady stream of patrons wheeling shopping carts out of the shopping center last week shows residents are willing to shop.
East Harlem resident Brandy Cruz, 20, has lived in the neighborhood for 11 years and said she is excited to see another new store open.
“It’s a good opportunity for the neighborhood,” she said. “Especially because we don’t have a lot of stores here to shop in.”
As for the Harlem-centric merchandise Target promises, Cruz said she was excited to see the goods.
“It’s pretty cool, especially if it’s about Spanish Harlem," she said.