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Late deal at Target

BY SHANE ERSLAND | AUGUST 24, 2009 7:05 AM

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Nearing midnight on Aug. 22 — after Target had closed its doors to the public — a long, winding line extended from the cash registers as UI students waited to buy merchandise.

As part of Welcome Week activities geared toward UI freshmen, Target opened exclusively for students from 10:30 p.m. until 12:30 a.m. to give new students an opportunity to buy essential goods for their new homes.

“Obviously, this is profitable for Target,” said store manager Kurt Griebel. “But we also have a great relationship with [the UI], so we wanted to get kids out of their dorm rooms in a positive way.”

Buses sporting the red-and-white Target logo picked up students in front of the IMU and several residence halls, shuttling them to and from the Coral Ridge Mall.

The extra two shopping hours brought in 14 percent of the store’s sales that day, Griebel said.
Students picked up items ranging from school supplies to furniture on the shopping trip. Many bounced and danced around the store as the sound system blared pop music louder than normal business hour tunes.

UI freshman Mary Grier said she was disappointed when the store ran out of what she came looking to buy.

“I wanted a futon, but they’re sold out of the one I want,” Grier said.

Though the shopping spree was targeted for freshmen, plenty of upperclassmen made the voyage, too.

“I wanted to be part of Welcome Week,” UI junior Renata Cernetchi said, as she shopped for food and light bulbs. “I’m glad I came out; the music and stuff is pretty cool.”

The store’s busiest sections were Back to School and Housewares, said store employee Eric Hensel. But even Hensel, who was working in electronics, was busy helping students.

“It’s kind of like how it gets on a Christmas day,” Hensel said. “But it’s not completely out of hand.”

Event organizers used prizes as motivation to get students to come out late to shop rather than go downtown to the bars. If attendees texted “shopping30” to Target’s phone number, they had a chance to win merchandise including a Toshiba laptop, an Xbox 360, and various board games.

Nationwide, 35 Target stores participated in the first-time back-to-school event. The only other Iowa store to open late for students was the Ames location, near the Iowa State University campus.
First-year UI student Brianne Arnold was walking around the store, which does not sell pets, with a couple of plastic bags containing goldfish.

Arnold said she caught the Target-bound bus outside the IMU shortly after hanging out at the Black and Gold Carnival in Hubbard Park, another Welcome Week activity. She had won the fish in a ball toss game and was planning to buy them a bowl.

“We can’t have pets in the dorms except for fish, so we’re going to keep them,” Arnold said.

As she was trying to catch a bus home, a distraught UI sophomore pushed a cart full of board games she had won toward the parking lot, unsure how she would get all of her merchandise home. Finally, some store employees volunteered to help her.

“I don’t know what they’re going to do,” Taylor Chicchelly said. “I think they’re just going to load it all on a seat, and I’m going to have to sit on it.”


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