Target Corp. is shuttering its "The Shops at Target" experiment, which showcased exclusive goods from select independent boutique retailers within in-store shops.
The concept may come back at a later date, but Target currently wants to focus on collaborations with designers such as Missoni and Prabal Gurung, according to a report in the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
"At this time, we don't have plans for a future 'flight' of the Shops at Target, but we do have a number of collaborations planned for 2013 and beyond," Target spokeswoman Katie Boylan told the Trib.
In January 2012, a major media event in New York City heralded the arrival of "The Shops at Target." Marketing copy around the program touted how the "collections reflect each shop owner's unique perspective, offering Target's guests the opportunity to experience each shop's distinct aesthetic simply by visiting their local Target store or Target.com."
Target's first group of five boutiques opened in May and included The Candy Store of San Francisco, Miami-based luxury goods boutique The Webster, and Polka Dog Bakery in Boston. A fall group roll-out included men's apparel retailer Odin and home-decor retailer The Curiosity Shoppe.
Ms. Boylan said the initiative is another example of how Target continues to experiment with designer partnerships, which began with architect Michael Graves in 1999 before moving onto deals with GO International, Liberty of London and others. Its recent partnership with Prabal Gurung sold out almost immediately and was said to have been the most successful since its alliance with Italian fashion house Missoni, which sold out in minutes in late 2011 and crashed Target's website.
Although Target didn't detail the reasons for the closure, analysts assumed the Shops had underperformed. The Trib article stated that its partnership with Neiman Marcus was also said to have come in below plan, with Target cutting prices by 70 percent. Under that partnership, more than 50 items from 24 American designers were for sale in both chains this holiday season.
Some analysts said the publicity coming from the partnership announcements was enough to merit the likely small investment. But others noted that designer-labeled, exclusive lines such as Missoni were bound to perform better than designer collaborations around Target-branded lines
Asked in a RetailWire poll in January 2012, an overwhelming 77 percent of respondents felt "The Shops at Target?" was very or somewhat likely to succeed.
How would you rate the opportunity for carving space for independent in-store shops inside major chains?