First of 2 Santa Barbara-Area Target Stores Opens on State Street

Noozhawk — April 2, 2019

Long-awaited retailer makes its debut, with a second store in the works in Goleta

All good things come to those who wait.

Target, the popular retailer that has been an elusive dream of many Santa Barbara-area residents for decades, is finally here.

A variety of fruits and vegetables on sale a the new Target store on State Street in Santa Barbara. (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)

The store held a preview opening Tuesday night with mostly media representatives in attendance, but the doors will swing open to the public at 7 a.m. Wednesday.

“We are so excited to celebrate the opening of the very first target," said store manager Allie Lopez. "This store has been a long time in the making.”

More than 100 people attended the pre-opening of the store at 3298 State St.

DJ Skip Stecker spun songs by artists from Lady Gaga to Cher, and even the 1979 hit "Escape (The Piña Colada Song)" to get people into a shopping mood.

Target gave out an assortment of food, from egg rolls and chicken strips to cupcakes, chips, eggs, popcorn and drinks. Target mascot "Bullseye" made an appearance.

The two-story, 34,000-square-foot Target is a small-scale version of the larger stores in Ventura and Santa Maria, and soon headed to Goleta, at the site of the former Kmart building.

DJ Skip Stecker entertains visitors at the new Target store in Santa Barbara. (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)

Although smaller, this Target featured many of the items from its larger sister stores — cookware, bakeware, toys, cold and cough medicine, baby food, instant formula and bottles. Media along with employees, their guests and members of the public wandered the aisles with smiles on their faces, dumbfounded that a Target actually exists in Santa Barbara.

“It's wonderful,” said Sandy Kopitzke. “We've waited a long time. It looks bigger than I thought it would be. There’s a lot here.”

Among the shoppers were married couple Sabrina and Justen Cleveland. They checked out the aisles with their two children, Koa, 2, and Kalei, 8 months.

The Capitola residents are on a camping trip at Refugio State Beach. On their way up the coast, they said they lost their air mattress from the back of the truck. The searched for a Target in Santa Barbara and found the State Street store.

“It's awesome,” Sabrina said. “It’s small, but nice. I am loving the treats.”

“We love it,” added Justin.

Santa Barbara has come a long way in its acceptance of Target.

In the early 2000s, Santa Barbara was cold to a Target on city-owned airport property because the liberal City Council majority at the time viewed it as a “low-paying retailer” that was not unionized.

Efforts to build a Target in Goleta also fizzled, with the company pulling out because of high developer fees proposed prior to approval.

In October 2017, Target announced plans to raise its minimum hourly wage to $11, which is now the California minimum wage, along with a commitment to increasing the minimum hourly wage to $15 by the end of 2020.

Several members of the Santa Barbara City Council attended the grand opening, which included a ribbon-cutting.

“It’s great for families,” said Councilman Eric Friedman, who also works at Trader Joe's. “It serves a need, especially with the families and children in the area.”

Like many Santa Barbara residents, Friedman said he and his family used to regularly make time to shop at Target stores in Ventura and Oxnard whenever they would visit Ventura County.

Councilman Oscar Gutierrez said “it’s great that we are getting something the community has been wanting for decades.

Gutierrez said he appreciates that Target will provide “employment and inexpensive shopping.”

Councilwoman Meagan Harmon said Target would be like a second home. She has a toddler and plans to spend plenty of dollars at the store.

“This is going to be a game-changer,” Harmon said.

A ribbon cutting was held Tuesday at the new Target store in Santa Barbara. (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)

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