Residents ask Target to keep Springfield store open

Clark County residents already saw JC Penney and Macy’s leave Springfield earlier this year, but some didn’t want to let their Target store go quite as easily.

More than 2,100 area residents had signed a petition on the website change.org by Friday afternoon, asking the retailer’s executives to reconsider a recent decision to close the Springfield location in January next year.

Earlier this week, the Minneapolis-based retailer said it will close the Springfield store at 1885 W. 1st St., along with 12 other locations, including one store in Columbus.

The petition is addressed to Brian C. Cornell, board chairman and CEO of Target Corp. The individual who first filed the petition couldn’t be reached for comment Friday.

“The Target in Springfield, Ohio, may not be the biggest or grandest store out of them all, but it is the one with the most heart,” the online petition says. “In Springfield, Ohio, our mall has disintegrated into nothingness and there have been no other places to shop. The result was a mass love for Target from such a great town.”

Target is the third major retailer to close in Springfield this year after JC Penney and Macy’s decided in January to shutter their locations at the Upper Valley Mall.

The move will affect 103 Target workers. Company officials declined to provide specifics about the Springfield site, but said a store typically is closed after several years of declining profitability.

Messages on the petition ranged from one-line declarations of loyalty to requests from employees who said they wanted to keep their jobs.

“I’m signing this because even though the numbers may be low, Springfield is a community that is on the upswing when it comes to retail opportunities. If you were to leave the community, you’d just see your company looking for a new location in Springfield a year or two down the line,” said John Fritz, of Springfield. “Please keep the store in town, or consider moving it out on Bechtle Avenue where it will have more exposure.”

Andrew Scott had a more basic message.

“As a Target employee, would really like the store to stay,” Scott said.

Company officials said Friday that Target has been in contact with local leaders about the decision.

“We’re always listening to guests’ feedback and continue to answer questions about the closures via our social media channels and Guest Relations hotline,” said Kristy Welker, a spokeswoman for the company. “We appreciate guests’ love for Target and look forward to welcoming them at other nearby stores and on Target.com.”

The company closed locations in several other cities similar to Springfield, said Mike McDorman, president of the Chamber of Greater Springfield.

The chamber has promoted the petition on social media. But McDorman said residents also need to be conscious of shopping at stores in Clark County because retailers closely track buying habits.

“The challenge in a community like Springfield, you either use it or you lose it,” McDorman said. “That’s something you see in communities our size across the country when you look at recent closures of retail.”

It’s often convenient for residents to shop in places like Beavercreek or Columbus, he said. But firms like Target keep a close eye on a store’s performance.

“We have a role to play in that as a community,” McDorman said. “If we’re not buying from those retailers there is an impact and over time that impact leads to a closure.”

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