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Target takes heat for dropping popcorn and Icee drinks, while Starbucks fans rejoice

A major fan of Target’s popcorn clutches several bags of the snack, which some shoppers enjoy with slushy Icee refreshments. --
A major fan of Target’s popcorn clutches several bags of the snack, which some shoppers enjoy with slushy Icee refreshments. -- Image from Target on Twitter

Most shoppers in the Columbus area appear to agree that a major renovation of the Target store on Bradley Park Drive is in order. After all, the discount retailer’s local space is nearly two decades old.

From there, however, the lines are drawn on whether or not Minneapolis-based Target Corp. should ditch its longtime café near the front entrance for a new Starbucks coffee shop.

Or more specifically, if the traditional aromatic popcorn and slushy Icee refreshments should be swapped for a ham and cheese croissant and vanilla bean latte – iced or otherwise.

“Darn it. I could easily take my kids there and buy them an Arctic Blast and some popcorn and they were happy and I got to shop,” Chanel Kiphart posted on the Ledger-Enquirer’s Facebook page. “They’re going to be so disappointed when they see a Starbucks instead.”

On the flip side of that is Kristin McCrobe, who commented: “The popcorn eatery stunk up half the store. I personally don’t mind that the smell of coffee will replace it, even if an identical establishment exists across the street.”

Target launched the remodel of its 123,235-square-foot store at 1591 Bradley Park Drive just over two weeks ago, with company media representative Liz Hancock saying the project will be completed this fall and, yes, there will be a Starbucks inside. A city building permit shows at least $1.1 million is being spent on the renovation project.

Media reports on store remodels elsewhere indicate it will take about two months for the fairly dramatic overhaul to be wrapped up. It will include modern décor, an improved layout, fresh lighting and mannequins sporting apparel, similar to what’s found in a non-discount department store.

“The decision to close the Target café, which offered those (popcorn and Icee) items, as part of the Columbus store remodel is designed to create additional space for an in-store Starbucks location set to open later this fall,” Hancock said Friday via email. “We are remodeling stores across the country to give guests an experience that’s easy and inspiring. With any change, we appreciate our guests’ patience and understanding, and we look forward to welcoming guests to the remodeled store later this fall.”

Hancock also squashed any hopes Columbus residents might have for a larger Super Target, which includes a full line of groceries, saying the retailer has not plans to change the store format here.

A Super Target would appear unlikely anyway, considering the retailer has its hands full not only with more than 300 store renovations this year alone, but also with its continuing transition into online commerce, an expensive battleground that is being dominated at the moment by Amazon and up-and-comers such as Walmart.

In fact, a glance at Target’s “store openings” list for the next few years shows it is thinking smaller primarily, with the vast majority of outlets on the drawing board less than 60,000 square feet in size. On top of that, Walmart, a prime competitor of Target, already has five supercenters in the Columbus-Phenix City market, along with four smaller neighborhood markets that primarily sell groceries.

That leaves shoppers at the Columbus Target hoping that the renovation that is now unfolding — most of the work being done at night after the store closes — will make for a more pleasant experience. Still, leave the café’s slushy drinks and popcorn, some say, with others praising the retailer for bringing forth Starbucks and its coffee and sandwiches.

A sampling of their comments on the Ledger-Enquirer’s Facebook page:

“I’m glad I’m not the only one that will miss the popcorn and icees … I went a couple of weeks ago just to satisfy my pregnancy craving and the café was closed! – Kristen Symone Guest

“I worked at the Target in Decatur Alabama for 7 years and we had a Starbucks in our store. Trust me you will love it. We also had a Starbucks down the road as well.” – Mary Wynn

“Very disappointed. There’s a Starbucks right across the street. The kids wanted to go to Target specifically for ices and popcorn.” – Angela Stephens

“Everyone talking about the popcorn but it was always old and chewy to me. Never been a fan of the food in there.” – Preston N. Tinsley Welch

“Yay!!! Now I don’t have to go to Auburn for Target … we can shop and enjoy our Starbucks!!!” – Brandi Pinkard Toms

“I have been to one (in) Atlanta that has both. I am not a Starbuck’s person but I liked the popcorn.” – Sharnette Grubbs

“Screw the popcorn and icees what about the pretzels … Ah well, I like Starbucks.” – Stacy Ballard

“I do not like Starbucks so it means nothing to me. If you really want to improve, make it a SUPER TARGET.” — Jan Oates Studdard

“Can they put a wine bar in there instead? If not coffee is good.” – Amanda Carol Insco

“What. No more popcorn??????” – Deborah Mullins

“Worst idea ever!” – Jennifer Nicole

“Now there’s no reason to go to Target anymore!” – Kristin Windsor