Update: Target has since apologized for the CBGB event; read the update here.
When Target’s first East Village outpost was announced in 2016, we called it “the latest sign of neighborhood’s übergentrification.” Little did we know: The store formally opened over the weekend, with a series of “brand activations” that draw on the history of the once-gritty neighborhood.
And as first reported by EV Grieve, one of those included re-creating the iconic CBGB facade—complete with an awning that read “TRGT” and “BANDS” in the venue’s signature font—around the store’s entrance on 14th Street and Avenue A.
Other elements of the display included fake storefronts intended to look like the mom-and-pops that were once a staple of New York’s neighborhoods; a giant red guitar that people could pose for photos with; red newspaper boxes that held “The Target Times” (rather than, say, The Village Voice), and facsimiles of tenement buildings draped on the outside of Target’s new building—which happened to replace several older buildings.
The 27,000-square-foot outpost, which is one of Target’s “small format” stores intended for urban areas, is located at the base of EVGB (aka “East Village’s Greatest Building”), the pricey rental developed by Extell. The building replaced several longtime East Village businesses, including a pizza place, a laundromat, and the dive Blarney Cove. Its currently-available units start at $3,681/month for a studio, and go up to $12,413/month for a three-bedroom.
The Internet reacted as you would expect:
Jane Jacobs is rolling in her grave today. Target has opened on Ave A, and for their grand celebration they have committed what might be the most deplorable commodification of local neighborhood culture I’ve ever witnessed. https://t.co/OVl08P9veg— Jeremiah Moss (@jeremoss) July 21, 2018
you know i used to see shows at the original TRGT https://t.co/yA5Zaeu4dl— Tim Donnelly (@timdonnelly) July 21, 2018
This is a stunt that probably sounded cute in brainstorming, didn't consider the larger meaning of what it represents, upset true believers but will probably succeed anyway because a lot of people just want to pose for a selfie with a giant red guitar. https://t.co/PHdGsWDCvf— Adam Ritchie Brand Direction (@aritchbrand) July 22, 2018
Full disclosure: I actually shop at Target. But this - as part of the new store in the East Village - spits in the face of everything CBGB stood for. pic.twitter.com/3Pz9MmsaLo— Earl Douglas (@edouglas528) July 21, 2018
As Brooklyn Vegan notes, this isn’t the only weird simulacrum of the beloved punk venue; at Newark Airport, CBGB LAB (that stands for “Lounge and Bar”) dishes up “classic American fare including burgers and chops.”