Ariel Kaminer writes in the New York Times about shopping at the first Target in Manhattan which is located in East Harlem:
It is a sharp contrast to hopping from store to store for kitchen tools here, socks there, electronics in yet another place… That dominant New York shopping model has its charms, but really, remind me what they are. I like local merchants as much as the next New York nostalgist, but on a torpid summer day there is much to be said for the suburban efficiency of one-stop shopping…
It all seems so convenient (and cheap) that you start to think you should just buy everything then and there, to have on hand when you need it.
But what did I need? … Four Riedel wine glasses ($39.99)? (When the same brand is available at Target and Tiffany, it’s time to re-evaluate the distinction between mass and class.)…
After several hours, I found myself wandering through the aisles with my shopping cart, glassy-eyed from the sheer glut of choices, idly reaching for things that I felt no special connection to. It was time to go.
Kaminer appears to be thinking through the implications of of big box shopping stores that offers consumers many cheap options (and even some high-end fare). Granted, this one-stop shopping has not just been the domain of suburbanites: it has been available in department stores for a long time. But the experience of going to a downtown Macy’s or Marshall Field’s still seems quite different than going to Target. Those department stores were and still are more of an experience and you pay for that experience as opposed to a Target or Wal-Mart or Home Depot where the goal is primarily efficiency and low prices.
Additionally, the construction of urban malls and shopping centers (but usually lacking the abundant parking lots) really lowers the walls between the urban and suburban shopping experience. This Target is located in “the first retail power center in Manhattan” that also features Best Buy, Old Navy, and Costco. Though it is mainly accessible by subway, the dominant world of American shopping – malls and big box stores – is now available to Manhattanites.