Dozens of students and Gainesville residents attend the opening of Target on West University Avenue and 13th Avenue. A ribbon cutting was presented at 5:30 p.m. before the doors opened for customers.

Cecilia Lemus / Alligator Staff

Underneath The Standard at Gainesville, Albert and Alberta welcomed Target’s mascot, Bullseye, with open arms.

The trio stood at the front entrance of Target’s new location at The Standard, located at 250 NW 13th St., and greeted UF students and residents as part of the store’s soft opening event on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. At 23,000 square feet, the location is Target’s first “footprint” location in Florida, store director Alan Ray said.

Compared to the other two Target superstores in Gainesville, the new location is designed to be more metropolitan in style and size, Ray said. The stock includes groceries, clothes, video games, cell phones and a small pharmacy.

“We’re just looking to be a great go-to shopping destination for obviously students and also the people who live in the area,” he said.

Inside the store, a cupcake arrangement in the shape of the Target logo greeted customers at the cash registers. The Target employee dressed as Bullseye walked about posing for pictures with families and kids.

Phillip Hulme, a UF second-year business graduate student, stood in the snack aisle, picking which deluxe roasted peanuts container he’d take home.

Hulme lives about a mile away from campus, but he said he’s excited to have a new store right on the route of his Northwest 13th Street commute.

“I’m excited,” the 31-year-old said. “It’s right next to where I park.”

Outside the main entrance, a one-story red and white balloon archway stood tall.

As Gainesville resident Ron Kay biked toward campus along the sidewalk, he stopped to admire the archway.

“I didn’t even know they were opening today,” the 36-year-old said.

Kay, a dishwasher at Leonardo’s By the Slice, walked through the clothing aisle of the store to see if they had blue jeans for the cold season ahead. Living a block east of The Standard, he looks forward to having a store close by.

“I’ve got to say, I think I could get used to this,” he said, his eyes gleaming as he looked around the store. “This beats going all the way down to Archer every time I want to go to Target.”

Staff Writer

David Hoffman covers crime and metro for The Alligator. A rising UF history and economics senior, the 21-year-old lives and breathes for classy Parks and Recreation references and watching live performances of the Red Hot Chili Peppers on YouTube.