LAKEVIEW — There will be no doubt in which neighborhood the new Target is located — the display of Cubs gear inside the entryway says it all.
"Our customers can walk in from the 'L' on their way to a Cubs game, get some stuff and go," said Jeff Patrick, the store team leader who has spent the past month prepping for the opening of Lakeview's first Target at 3204 N. Clark St.
The "grab-and-go" mentality is the driving philosophy behind the small-format Target, located a minute's walk from the Belmont "L" station with an eye on commuters, apartment dwellers and neighbors looking for a convenient one-stop shop in the heart of bustling Lakeview.
Target will have its grand opening Sunday — during which it will give away reusable canvas bags to the first 1,000 customers — but had its soft opening a few days early on Wednesday to give neighbors a sneak peek.
Branded as the Belmont Station Target, the 29,000-square-foot store carries women and men's clothing, jewelry, accessories, home goods and decor, produce, groceries, alcohol, electronics and office supplies, but with a pared-down selection much smaller than what's offered at most of the corporation's 1,816 stores.
The store also has a CVS Pharmacy, Starbucks, Target Tech desk and order pickup.
With another Target opening in the former Whole Foods one mile west at 3300 N. Ashland Ave. in October, both stores are meant to serve customers in their immediate proximity, Patrick said.
A display of Cubs gear is the first thing to greet customers at the new Target. [DNAinfo/Ariel Cheung]
"Especially with the train right here, this store is really going to be for those commuters to grab a fresh lunch on their way to work or pick out some home decor," Patrick said Wednesday. "Our commuters off the Red Line wouldn't necessary walk a mile to the Ashland location."
For those who drive, there is parking available on the Clark Street side of the building, which is also home to office space, pricey luxury apartments and a 39-car garage.
The grocery aisles total roughly 20 percent of the store offerings, with prices for most basic items comparable to nearby grocery stores. As of Wednesday, a dozen eggs were 99 cents, a gallon of milk $2.98 and a pound of ground beef between $3.49 and $5.19.
The new central Lakeview Target, 3204 N. Clark St. carries a pared down selection of home goods, fresh produce, alcohol, clothing, health and beauty products and electronics. [DNAinfo/Ariel Cheung]
Grab-and-go food items from Chicago's own Good To Go Fresh is available at the new Target at Belmont and Clark. [DNAinfo/Ariel Cheung]
The touted grab-and-go items from the West Loop's Good To Go Fresh wholesaler include a $5.99 cranberry chicken salad sandwich and $3.49 mini subs, among other options.
The frequent Target shopper will find the shelves stocked with familiar brands (although not as many of them soon). The beloved red tag clearance items are a little sparse at present, but that will change as inventory rotates just like any other Target, Patrick said.
The store is the fifth small-format location in Chicago, with others in Hyde Park, Streeterville, Lincoln Park and Downtown. The design is meant to increase the company's reach into dense urban markets as the store launches new brands and pushes to boost sagging sales.
Near the Lakeview location, small business owners have said they are relieved that construction on the $50 million, eight-story development has finally completed after two years of work.
Shoppers browse the new Target at 3204 N. Clark St. at its soft opening Wednesday. [DNAinfo/Ariel Cheung]
With many like Taboo Tabou and Kriser's Natural Pet carrying niche products not found at Target, the entrepreneurs said they are cautiously optimistic that Target will help draw more foot traffic to the area and improve sales for the corridor.
Above the retailer are 90 apartments, 39 parking spaces and 8,000-square feet of office space.
Target is open 7 a.m.-10 p.m. Mondays-Fridays, 8 a.m.-11 p.m. Saturdays and 8 a.m.-10 p.m. Sundays.