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The sun has just risen here in Chicago on dewy pavement in the Loop. Just as the city wakes up, Loopdwellers and the people who work in the chaos of the Loop are learning that a new department store is about to change the face of retail, offering more possibilities in a way that makes sense.
It's supposed to be a hot one today, almost 99º, so we invite you to join us from our air conditioned perch on the second level of Louis Sullivan's famed rotunda on State Street at Madison as we live-blog the opening hours of the first CityTarget in the nation.
6:45 - We just got here. A camera crew from CNBC is walking around. Photographers are here and there, accumulating b-roll.
6:55 - Inside the store, sales associates, seemingly hungover from last night's bash with Bullseye the bull terrier are arriving for work, still hyped up on Eli's Cheesecake. They quickly drop their bags and rush to the doors in anticipation of the first shoppers.
7:00 - The team of managers unlocks the doors and lets everyone who was waiting outside in to shop, handing them all smaller more maneuverable shopping carts as they enter.
7:04 - Meet Victor, CityTarget's first customer. He commutes several times a week from the south 'burbs while he completes his degree at Loyola. What did he buy? A Strawberry Nesquik.
[Oh hi Victor!]
When we ask Victor what he's most excited about with the cometh of CityTarget, he tells us that because he wakes up up so early to come into the city, many places are closed so there's really no place where he can pick up breakfast. Being open so early, having a large grocery section in the store, AND Pret A Manger, CityTarget poses a new option beyond the usual low fat turkey bacon breakfast sandwich.
7:20 - Hungry for breakfast ourselves, we hunker down in Pret A Manger's seating section and use CityTarget's free wi-fi over an iced coffee and an insanely buttery almond croissant. However, as we look for the best seat, the homing device in our blogger beak which usually leads us to the nearest electrical outlet seems to have malfunctioned. There are no electrical outlets anywhere in Pret, so if you're a blogger, student or tourist with 4% battery left, you'll have to scout the only outlet we saw; on the second level of the rotunda.
[Jean has several boxes of Cynthia Rowley for Band Aid at home.]
7:47 - Ate that almond croissant too fast. Talked to Jean in the pharmacy [ground level, southeast corner] about what we could take to quell our aching stomach. She suggested a few remedies, and after a short conversation we decided the best action was to not eat so fast next time. With a mutual understanding of how great the almond croissants are, we ask her what her favorite product in the pharmacy is. Of course, it's the Cynthia Rowley for Band Aid bandages.
Related: Cynthia Rowley's Band-Aid Line Now Has a Beach Sport Kit [Racked]
[Click to enlarge]
8:30 - We're up above the rotunda in the most iconic space of the store watching everyone hustle around the intersection.
8:55 - We meet Jeff and Jim of Lambda Legal, a firm here in the Loop which focuses on safeguarding and advancing the civil rights of the LGBT community through impact litigation, education and policy work. We take their photo through the bullseye as they chat amongst themselves about how Target's anti-gay misstep should be remembered yet nowadays the Minneapolis-based corporation is making peaceful strides with the large sector of their demographic and let us never speak of the t-shirt incident again.
9:40 - Speaking of t-shirts, right as soon as you walk through the main doors in the rotunda, you'll see a selection of t-shirts and Chicago-y product in the CityLove section which will also debut in Seattle this morning. The vintage-inspired t-shirts feature delineations of the skyline and images of rediculous pigeons. Also included in the Chicago product selection, you'll find pillows of the Cubby Bear and Southpaw, the baseball team mascots. In addition you can shop coffee mugs and even Viewmasters with reels of Chicago hot dog stands, motels along Linden Ave, sightings along Route 66 and the Blommer Chocolate factory.
10:30 - Maybe this happens you too, but sometimes we're working and hear a catchy song come over the sound system and start bobbing our head a little--this just happened with Justin Bieber's 'Baby' feat. Ludacris.
10:45 - Target has never made a playlist or broadcast music throughout their stores before. CityTarget is the first store to have a music playlist. We hear Rihanna, The Wanted, Gotye, Carly Rae Jepsen and Madonna. The playlist was created in partnership with the experiential service experts at DMX, which can be heard in all areas except electronics, guest services and check out lanes. DMX also created the video and digital signage seen throughout the store.
[The temporary photoshopped plaques explaining the architectural history of the building will be replaced with more substantial plaques]
11:55 - Wandering around in the rotunda, we meet one of the architects who helped transform the landmark [the first landmark with a Target inside of it] and she lets us in a few fun facts. We won't bore you with how many times we uttered the word "rotunda", but for starters, the rotunda that we're standing in, is obviously a unique feature for a building to have. It exists because the opposite side of State Street is the end of a 'right of way'. This is the intersection where Chicago's grid system starts, which when you're standing on the second level gives a long view down the middle of Madison Street, all the way to the West Loop.
12:50 - We just met Mike Quinn, the store's head honcho manager and his friend Nita who we caught applauding customers as they came into the store. While walking through the dollar bins, passing by the school supplies, we casually ask Mike what his story is... and it turns out, he's a homegrown Chicago boy, always in love with shopping in the Loop who 'made good'.
"I grew up here in Chicago and in the suburbs. I've had lot of fond memories of shopping downtown with my parents and my grandparents, especially on State Street. I'd look at the big windows and wonder, and love coming down here for the holidays. I'm really excited to be spearheading part of that experience for people now, and even more excited to be reaching to new guests and tourists while representing an architectural gem of Loop, here in the Louie Sullivan Center." 1:35 - The store has been pretty busy now for a few
hours and survived an explosion of Loop lunchers and we feel like Mike can take it from here, so we outtie, yo. Yes, we're taking
advantage of this Chicago heat wave, buying one of these and spending
the rest of the day at Oak Street Beach.
· Exclusive: Inside and All Around the Nation's Very First CityTarget [Racked]
· All Target Coverage [Racked]