Target set to open in West Lebanon on Nov. 7

The retailer’s new location will stand alongside TJ Maxx and Rent-A-Center.

by Emily Fagell | 10/29/21 5:10am

fagell_emily_target_opening
by Emily Fagell / The Dartmouth

On Nov. 7, a new Target location will open in TJ Maxx Plaza in West Lebanon. The 86,562 square foot property will replace KMart and will ajoin retailers TJ Maxx and Rent-A-Center, according to plans provided by Dan Zelson, founding principal of Charter Realty & Development, the plaza’s property manager.

While Zelson declined to comment on pricing, the Valley News reported that the construction was part of a $2 million project to introduce a Target and Sierra Trading Post, another retailer, to the plaza. According to Zelson, there were no obstacles in the development of the store, and he wrote in an emailed statement that the new Target will be a “real positive” for the Upper Valley community. 

“We reached out to [Target] as we felt they were missing from the market,” Zelson wrote. “I think it will be a real positive. With the loss of KMart and JCPenney[‘s West Lebanon locations], the community should be happy to have a new, high quality discounter like Target.”

The West Lebanon JCPenney and Kmart — which was the last of the chains’ locations in either New Hampshire, Vermont or Maine — both closed in summer 2020 amid the financial fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Sociology professor Janice McCabe said she is excited to have more retail options in the Upper Valley. She added that while she has previously done her retail shopping in several places,  including CVS, Kohl’s and HomeGoods, having a Target in the Upper Valley will “expand our options in a really nice way.”

“I'm very thankful that it’s opening,” McCabe said. “Target has a lot of really cute home things and kids clothes. I think those things are a little different than what you find [in] other places.”

Zelson wrote that construction ended recently and “it was important for [Target] to be open by the holiday season.” 

Many other Upper Valley residents are also pleased about the opening, according to local resident Heather Wittman. Wittman said she and her two daughters have frequented Target’s Concord location and are “really excited” for the new storefront. 

Upper Valley resident Lindsay Coker said that a West Lebanon location will help reduce “commute time and resources” for locals who previously had to travel to Manchester and other locations to shop at Target.

Members of the Dartmouth community are also excited about the prospect of a Target closer to Hanover. Haley Banta ’25 said she thinks students will make “great use” of the Target but added that not having a car makes accessing stores outside of Hanover challenging. McCabe noted that house communities have previously organized van and bus trips to West Lebanon for students.

Despite the generally positive response to the new Target, some residents have expressed a resistance to “big box” stores infiltrating the Upper Valley, according to Wittmann.

“I don't usually support large retailers,” Wittmann said. “I think [small businesses are] better for communities. Typically they pay better wages to their employees. They can be part of the community. I think it’s really important to have a community sense, [and] to have a downtown, so there’s a place for people to go and to meet up.”

While Coker agreed that she prefers small businesses, she said she thinks Target provides a better alternative to other retailers such as Walmart. Coker pointed to Target’s “employee-friendly policies” to explain her preference.

“I typically avoid going to big box stores as much as possible and prefer to shop with local stores or thrift stores,” Coker said. 

Furthermore, Coker said that when she does buy from retailers, she prefers Target over other national retailers due to her perception that Target is more politically progressive and offers better wages for their employees.

Banta said she thinks Dartmouth students also will “prefer [Target] to Walmart,” adding that “Target is just maybe a little bit nicer.”

Some residents also expressed concerns about the labor shortage in the Upper Valley, with many stores reporting short-staffing issues.

“I don’t know if they will be successful, frankly, with this labor shortage,” Wittmann said. “You go into Walmart, [and] there’s sometimes just one person at the checkout now and they’re doing a lot of the automated self-checkout. So hopefully that will be okay.”

According to Target’s website, the West Lebanon location is currently looking to hire for several positions, including cashiers, security specialists and visual merchandisers.

Zelson said Charter Realty is “always looking” to develop more retail in the Upper Valley. However, some residents pointed to the need to protect small businesses.

“I have mixed feelings because I think larger retailers coming in tend to drive smaller local businesses out of business,” Coker said. “I remember a time in the Upper Valley where there was no Walmart, and I appreciate those times and have concern for the local businesses that are being impacted.”

Representatives from Target did not respond to multiple requests for comments.

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