The Target store on Carpenter Road is getting a significant refreshing. It got a minor upgrade a few years ago, to move the electronics to the back of the store and introduce the expanded grocery, but it looks like bigger stuff is happening. Now that I think about it, the roadside signage that was updated over the winter was probably an early clue: The new sign emphasized the Target logo but lower-cased the name. This is consistent with Target’s current visual identity, but not with anything at the existing Carpenter location. That appears set to change, since a big chunk of the parking lot is now fenced off and filled with shipping containers. For my money, the coolest use of shipping containers is still Flynn’s house on the dock in the movie “Tron Legacy.” But that’s been covered to death in other blogs, so let’s get back to the retail. That square patch is almost certainly going to be a larger bullseye logo, probably with “Target” below it, as seen in other more recently built Target locations. Here’s the most exciting prospect: I think this will take advantage of the seldom-used parking in this stretch of the shopping center and become a second entrance to the Target store. Although other markets have had giant-size Target stores with two entrances for years — the closest local example I can think of is the Coolidge Road store in Troy — Target announced a new store concept at a conference a year ago in which one entrance would maintain the typical “come in for three things and walk out with fifty things” that people love about Target, but the other entrance would be a convenience entrance where you can pick up an online order or get just, like, a gallon of milk. The grocery is so far from the current entrance right now that the bananas are 39 cents a pound, but if you pay an extra $20, you can receive a medal and a souvenir moisture-wicking t-shirt. They’re also doing something with the little food place up front. Hard to say what this will entail, but more recent Target locations in other areas group the Starbucks counter with the ready-to-eat meals counter and also include a seating area with natural light. Here’s what it looked like before, as seen at a very similar location in Mansfield, Ohio: And here’s what a more modern storefront looks like. The windows below the Target sign help bring natural light into the seating area: Can we anticipate this here? I think that would be nice. For now, the Starbucks counter remains open in its current spot on the other side of the entrance, and will not close for the day on May 29 as corporate-owned Starbucks stores are slated to do. That was more than I expected to write about this. I tend to forget than nearly any chain store you ever really liked has a Flickr pool devoted to it and it was good to draw on that for a couple of the Target shots. The original Ann Arbor Target store, which opened like thirty years ago at Oak Valley Shopping Center on Saline Road, has a new roadside sign that’s JUST THE LOGO with NO LETTERS (sorry, no photo at the moment), so I can’t wait to see how they subvert the common storefront language Oak Valley has had since its inception. Finally, many Ann Arbor downtown dwellers continue to hold out hope that Target will try its flexible-format concept in a space near them. Where is there available space that could hold even this, though?
Hey, young world. It’s been an exciting month filled with actually wanting to be outdoors some of the time, and also with speaking at Penguicon. Attendees of the talk learned about the budget for this project (it is smaller than you can possibly imagine) and about some things that inspired me to write this (Found Magazine, Uni Watch, “Stopped. Watched.” from the old Ann Arbor Chronicle). I also performed a reading of the Mcity article with the photo illustrations. And I got a discount on my registration, so all four of us won! Sigh. Anyway, it’s been quiet here, mainly because of work (you can catch a glimpse on Twitter of what I’m doing when not blogging) but also because I just haven’t seen a lot going on lately, until this week. Let’s take a leisurely drive down Stadium Boulevard — quickly, before football season starts again. We’ll start at Stadium and Packard, where construction has ramped up on the Circle K. When it closed in November, the signage targeted an April reopening, but we really never got April. We got December, Apruary, and now Maypril. They didn’t even knock the old building down until a couple of weeks into the new year. Now that it’s not freezing every day, they’re putting in a lot of work. Eight pumps very close to Stadium Boulevard, which frankly is gonna be kind of a hike from the actual building once Apruary is upon us again, and the rain is cold and the air is dark. The convenience store building is crammed into the corner of the lot near Packard Road and backs up close to the backyards of the houses on Iroquois Street. Hopefully it will not be very lit back there, to reduce light pollution. The new building appears to have a similar footprint to the old building, but will likely be much more efficiently laid out and has a much taller roof than the old store. It also appeared to have a basement, from what I could glimpse when the foundation was dug during the winter. This Circle K Brand Story video was created by its Quebeçois parent company, the multinational convenience cartel Couche-Tard, and narrated by a pleasant voice of indeterminate origin. It is a lot of fun, if examining every frame of a brand video and imagining what kind of alternate-reality game you would create behind it is your idea of fun. This three-minute motion graphics logo-development video is also pretty interesting, even if I could have summed it up in ten seconds as “we made the K not-puffy, and the orange stripe is from our overseas counterpart’s logo. For the people of the world.” Call me sentimental, but I really hope a new-style Circle K store figures in a time-travel scene in the new-style Bill & Ted movie. Further down Stadium, another former gas station convenience store site is also seeing new construction. Here’s the old Sunoco (before that, a 76 station with a Hop-In store, if I recall correctly) on Stadium Boulevard. Seen here from the parking lot of its neighbor, Hot Pot Chen restaurant: Here it is this week, with construction in full swing: Something’s finally going up on this space. Only a couple of tall walls, so far, so it’s difficult to guess right now what this will ultimately be and whether it will have Kerosene and DVD rentals. Finally, a reader asked me in person, as readers often do, whether I had any idea what was going into the remaining empty storefronts at Maple Village. I just noticed Tuesday that another retailer has been announced as COMING SOON: COMPUTER, ZOOM IN AND ENHANCE. …it’s strip-mall stalwart ULTA BEAUTY?!? People who like funny, streaming-only TV shows may remember the final story arc on Hulu’s “Difficult People,” where the entire block of Dee’s restaurant was targeted to build a giant Sephora. Meanwhile, Ulta has established eyelash caches, bases for foundations, and bulkheads against blackheads on three sides of town so far — Arborland, Eisenhower, and now Maple Village. NO ONE IS READY FOR ULTA. While I do accept suggestions, postings are mostly based on what I notice as I travel around town on errands and such. I hope and anticipate that more frequent updates will resume as family schedules become increasingly busy and I have to drive more places. I have a couple of trips planned this summer too so there may be a “trip report” or two if I see anything worth posting. As always, thank you for reading. If you crave more hyper-local reporting and have already finished with Mlive’s articles, don’t forget to check out Edward Vielmetti’s Vacuum, TreeDowntown, and the Michigan Daily.
Exciting news: I am speaking at Penguicon 2018, in Southfield, MI, at the Westin Southfield-Detroit, on May 4 at 6pm. I am happy to sign printouts of various posts, or the entire website, following the talk and throughout the weekend. Please bring your own printout, I will try to carry pens. If you happened to make it to Nerd Nite A2 last summer at LIVE, this talk will be similar to that one, but since I am not sharing the evening with two much smarter scientists, I will read an additional post, and pause for questions. (Also, if this is like my last talk at Penguicon a couple of years ago, a few guys in the audience who know more than me will politely correct me throughout the hour… who am I kidding? Nobody knows more than me about A2RS.) If the time slot seems significant to you, it is because the Penguicon opening ceremonies will be happening in another room at the same time. I implore you to attend my talk instead, and skip the opening ceremonies. In fact, skip the entire event, it peaked a few years ago and has been getting more and more corporate ever since. If you don’t believe me, get there at 4:30 and try to find a good spot for the Penguicon Opening Ceremonies, hosted by Chris Hardwick on the Bud Light Lime Stage*. Seriously though, come see me at 6pm in the Nicolet Room. And if you can’t make it, check out my slides on the Penguicon web site after the conference. *this is not actually true