The Target parking lot in Morrow was largely vacant Wednesday afternoon. The retailer informed city leaders this week that it plans to close the store in February because of poor performance. (Staff Photo: Curt Yeomans)
MORROW — Clayton County will lose about 100 jobs Feb. 1, when the Target in Morrow closes its doors after about 18 years of business, according to a city official.
City Manager Jeff Eady said the city received a letter from Target informing officials about the decision. The store at 1940 Mt. Zion Road is one of four locations nationwide — and the only one in Georgia — slated for closure because of performance issues. The other stores are in Florida, Arizona and California.
It is also the only Target in Clayton County.
“They have roughly 100 jobs, but not all of them are full-time,” Eady said. “It’s full-time and part-time jobs. A lot of part-time. Anytime a big box store closes, it’s painful. It is a (surprise). Several years ago, they actually came to us about turning it into a Super Target and actually pushing the store out into the parking lot, which they can do.
“But for whatever reason, they’ve made the decision to close it instead,” he continued.
The absence of Target will leave a large empty hole in the Southlake Pavilion shopping center. It will be the second vacant space in the center because there is already a 40,000-square feet empty space advertised next to Target.
However, Southlake Pavilion has several other stores that are remaining, including Best Buy, PetSmart, David’s Bridal, Ross Dress for Less and Home Depot.
Clayton County Economic Development Director Grant Wainscott said county officials tried to get Target to stay, and are disappointed by the decision. He said the community is going through a period of retail shake-ups as some businesses leave and others come in.
He pointed to the fact that two restaurants are preparing to open locations on Mt. Zion Road as proof of that change.
“I don’t think this will be the only change we see over there,” Wainscott said.
However, Wainscott said the county still sees the Mt. Zion Road area as a viable commercial corridor, despite the retail giant’s departure. He said the city and the county are working to try and stabilize that corridor so it doesn’t become a row of vacant buildings.
“There is a concerted effort by the city and the county to really envision what the next decade of development along that corridor is going to look like,” said Wainscott. “We’re still bullish about that corridor and we think it offers great opportunities for development and redevelopment.”
Unlike other retailers, JCPenney, Toys “R” Us, Babies R Us and Haverty’s, Target is not leaving Morrow to open a new store in a nearby community. It is simply closing because of poor financial performance, according to Target officials.
It’s unclear what that Target location’s exact financial situation is. Target officials said, in a statement, money was a factor in the decision, but they did not give details.
“The store opened in 1996 and is being closed after careful consideration of the financial performance and potential of this specific location,” the statement says.
Clayton News Daily has requested a copy of Target’s letter to Morrow officials to see if it has any further details.
Target officials said employees at the store will have the option to transfer to nearby stores. The closest stores, according to their statement, are in McDonough, Fayetteville, Peachtree City and East Point.
As the news of the store’s closure has begun to permeate the community, it has been greeted with disappointment from the community. The reaction from readers on the News Daily Facebook page was mostly sadness.
“That stinks,” Gail Hensarling wrote.
“Target is one of my favorite stores. Just terrible,” Walter Edwards added.
Morrow Code Enforcement Officer Marti Tracy told readers to shop as much as possible at Clayton County stores to prevent more businesses from following Target’s lead.
“Well, I guess we are all guilty of not supporting our county businesses as much as we could,” said Tracy. “Whenever possible, please shop in Clayton County. I know some don’t believe the items that interest them are sold here, but more often than not, that just is not true. Target! Don’t go!”