Back to school: boost for Target

by Brady Averill

Santa Claus might not be in town, but the Target store in the Quarry shopping area is cashing in as if he were.

In the past week, University and other college students have been shopping at the store more than usual as they move in to residence halls and apartments.

“The last week that we just came out of is one of our biggest weeks,” store manager Sandy Praus said.

“It’s a pretty close match to Christmas for us,” she said. “We’re more a back-to-school store than a Christmas store (in terms of revenue).”

Because many University students live close to the Quarry location, it stocks shelves with items that fit college students’ needs, such as futons.

The big rush happened Sunday night as University students, who filled 16 buses, raided the store’s shelves.

Normally, the store makes $150,000 between 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Sunday night.

This week, Praus said the store made about $65,000 more than average.

Praus estimated that 1,800 to 2,000 University students attended the event, which was sponsored by Target, the Residential Hall Association and Housing and Residential Life

To combat the rush, staff was tripled to as many as 60 employees on duty, Praus said.

Common buys Sunday night included power strips, grocery items, small necessities and decorations. Praus said students were only allowed to buy what they could carry back on the bus.

First-year student Kassandra Harguth attended the event with her roommate and spent about $50 on power strips, movies and other small items, she said.

“We had forgotten stuff, and we needed it,” she said.

Harguth received a gift bag with a stuffed dog, mints and trinkets for attending.

Gift bags, raffle prizes, games and snacks were part of the night.

“(The gift bag) wasn’t an incentive, but it was just a nice little bonus thing,” said Andy Rosch, a first-year student.

Abby Musfeldt, a first-year business student, went to the event because she had no other way to get to Target.

Dampening her mood was the rain, Musfeldt said. She and her roommate waited inside until one of the buses showed up.

If given the opportunity, she said she would not attend the event again.

“It was crowded,” Musfeldt said. “Waiting in line took forever, and I’m not a patient person.”

It was also hard to get everything she bought back on the bus, she said.

Shelves emptied quickly, aisles were congested and lines to the register were several people deep at times.

Despite the poor weather and the long lines, organizers said the event is a good opportunity for students to socialize, get goodies and get transported for free from campus.

The bus trip provides students a chance to do any last-minute shopping they may have forgotten about, Residential Life program director Kevin Dostal Dauer said.

Sophomore Sam Fehrenbach didn’t have any complaints.

“It wasn’t so bad, just you know, relatively busy,” he said. “It’s a good idea. It’s not like they’re giving us any awesome deals, but they’re accepting (college students) I suppose.”

Rosch said he also liked the event.

“It was lots of fun,” he said. “It was a very social thing. It wasn’t just kids going around to get their shopping done.”

Besides the increase in sales, Praus said the event will hopefully encourage the new customers to come again.

“It’s really something to get them into the store because they come back,” she said.