Some 50 Roslindale residents and Roslindale Square business owners had a pretty clear request for Target officials tonight: Replace the food aisles in their proposed replacement for the Washington Street Staples with office supplies or even more clothes, because they don't want to see the nearby Village Market - a cornerstone of the village's revival - driven out of business.
And ditto for the planned mini-CVS in a neighborhood that has one of New England's last remaining independent pharmacies and which is just a mile or so away from a full-service CVS.
"Don't push our market out," state Rep. Liz Malia told two Target officials and their real-estate lawyer at the meeting at the Roslindale Community Center, organized by Roslindale Village Main Street.
Target recently announced it will open a small-scale store next March where the Staples is closing next month.
The new store, about the size of two basketball courts, rather than the two football fields of a full-size Target, will focus on what Roslindale's young families and homeowners need, according to Mark Hokanson, Target's new-store development lead. So expect plenty of clothes, the latest in electronic gadgets and enough home furnishings to tide somebody over until they can get to a full-sized Target, he said.
And in response to a common request he's heard so far, "we will carry socks, I promise," he said.
Fans of the neighboring Dunkin' Donuts have nothing to worry about - as a condition of their lease with the owner of both the Dunkin' Donuts and the impending Target, the chain will not be installing a Starbucks.
Residents applauded Target for bringing non-boutique clothing back to Roslindale - which has not had a clothing store since the JB Edwards uniform store moved to West Roxbury a couple years ago - along with home goods and the like.
But residents pleaded with Target not to add a food department that, while not a full-fledged supermarket, could jeopardize the Village Market, which residents and store owners credited with being the catalyst for the revival of Roslindale Square more than 20 years ago. They urged Target to recognize the unique village makeup of the area, an area full of small shop owners catering to people who moved there in part because of its village feel - and an area, they said, that needs office supplies for local businesses and at-home workers more than another place to buy bananas.
"We worked so hard to get this supermarket in this community," Barbara Lottero, executive director of the Greater Roslindale Medical and Dental Center said.
Resident Alan Wright threatened to lead a boycott of a Target with food.
Residents made a similar push on the proposed pharmacy.
Courtney Feeley Karp said she will love being able to shop locally for onesies for her toddler rather than driving to the Westwood Target. But she said she's not going to be very happy if the pharmacy harms Sullivan's, where she now goes to get the specially compounded medications her daughter needs.
Karp said small stores like Sullivan's are part of what make Roslindale Square special - a village where people can walk from shop to shop. "We relish it," she said of the village nature of the shopping area, adding that while she's willing to drive to Westwood for onesies, she wouldn't want to live there.
But while nobody at the meeting said they wanted the food, several said they would love to see Target bolster its office-supply offerings to replace what they said was the best part of Staples for them. Glenn Williams said it would be great if Target could even add in copy and print services, to replace the ones that will go away with Staples.
On all the requests, Hokanson was, at best, non-committal. Although he acknowledged that neither food nor the pharmacy were one of the chain's four main "pillars" - "baby," "kids," "wellness" and "style" - he said they were a key convenience for people who come in for one thing, then decide to pick up some food or a prescription. In fact, he said it might be difficult for the store to meet revenue goals without them. But he said he'd bring the suggestions back with him to Target headquarters in Minnesota.