East Harlem community left reeling by announcement of Target store closure

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Thursday, September 28, 2023
Target store closure leaves community reeling
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The shuttering of a Target store in East Harlem leaves residents and customers weary of the aftereffect. Joe Torres has the story.

EAST HARLEM, Manhattan (WABC) -- It's the end of September, but outside the Target store in East Harlem, it kind of felt like Memorial Day.

"I just got emotional," said Lisa Rodriguez, a frequent shopper at the location. "The cashier just started crying and I had to give her a hug, cause it's like we all know each other here."

So many shoppers arrived at Target on Wednesday unaware of the business decision made by the popular retailer.

"Where are the people in the community going to go now?," asked Kathering Griffin. "They would have to go to the Bronx."

The East Harlem location along with eight other stores will close on October 21.

"I really feel sad because you know we come up here with the senior citizens to shop," said Patricia Ryan, another fellow shopper.

In this tight knit community of Black and Latino families, where specialized mom and pop stores and street vendors line the avenues, Target represents values and convenience for general merchandise at an affordable price - all for people on a fixed-income and all within walking distance from home.

"You don't have to go to Jersey. You don't have to go downtown. You walk down the block, you come to Target, it's like home," said Martiza Fabian. "And it's so sad that it's going."

Target blames theft and organized retail crime for the closures, adding that theft prevention measures - like extra security and locked up merchandise - have failed to stem the tide of thieves stealing from the store.

"They are coming in and they are taking," said frequent shopper Denise Niles. "They don't care, and they are losing big time."