I was recently on vacation in San Marcos, and while on the trip had a chance to visit a few interesting retail outlets. One of the places I wanted to stop by was a “Target Express”. Target has since eschewed any sort of designations for their stores. Even if your local store still claims to be a “Super Target”, it’s actually just a Target with “Expanded Grocery”. However, with a miniscule square footage of 18,000, this store would absolutely fall under the Express category. While the store is technically off campus, it’s literally across the street from Texas State grounds, and a block away from multiple residence halls. The structure it sits under is actually an off-campus housing project. While I knew this store was going to be tiny, I wasn’t fully ready for what I found.
The store sits with a corner facing entrance, not unlike most pre-1960s supermarkets. It is fronted to students walking down from campus, and has limited visibility when coming through downtown San Marcos. The store can roughly be divided into Thirds. Approximately 1/3 is food, 1/3 is HBA/Pharmacy and 1/3 for everything else. The grocery section was a bit more extensive than what I expected, but was still very college oriented, including chilled beer and wine in the limited cold storage. The actual CVS Pharmacy, is standard in size with the counter at the rear of the store, next to a code secured restroom it feels a bit like visiting one of their stores. The “everything else” category, can best be described as limited electronics, limited home improvement, basic home accessories, and a small amount of clothing. The clothing section was tiny but the largest of the remaining departments. It even included a single cabin dressing room!
Store exterior & Parking
Parking at this Target is limited to a few spaces on the street, and a small portion of the first floor garage. Despite this, Target still includes 2 Pick-Up spots, although without any sort of Tower, just metal signs. The garage also features a secondary entrance and checkout. The store is very well-designed and meshes with the building above. It seems that target takes the first two floors, although sales space is only on the first floor.
Entrance & Grocery
Immediately upon entry, you’re set to go through a one way entry/exit maze. A piece of loss prevention used at large format stores, this is likely to be much more effective, since there is no “Dollar Spot” in front of the exit doors here. The grocery selection at the Texas State Target, is pretty good as far as Target groceries go. This will obviously be closer to what most Target stores used to sell prior to the P-Fresh updates, but do expect to find a small assortment of fresh vegetables and fruits, in addition to a good amount of refrigerated and frozen stocks for a store this small. Comparing it to say a freestanding CVS or Walgreens, (which come close, but are both on average a few thousand square feet smaller than this Target) this store carries a far wider grocery selection. This is no doubt one of the profit generators of this store. In the final photo, you’ll see grocery comes to a close with the self-checkout at the rear entrance. The order pickup cart seems to have found a home here, as opposed to the “Order Pickup” counter we’ll see towards the end of our visit.
CVS / Health and Beauty Aids
Heading towards the rear of the store, we find ourselves in CVS land. As mentioned earlier, this did feel a bit like visiting one of their stores, especially when getting to the pharmacy counter. The selection is obviously limited due to space, but it’s not bad for what they’re able to cram in. Every mainstream product I could think of was there, and I actually had an easier time finding an HBA item here, than a nearby HEB, I stopped at on the way. The store also features a cosmetics section, oddly sandwiched in between grocery and the self-checkouts!
Electronics, Office, Home Improvement, & Accessories
Heading back around towards the front of the store, we find ourselves in the “everything else” portion of the store. What would be entire departments in a normal Target were relegated to single aisles in San Marcos. Although, the merchandise was located and presented efficiently. Oddly, the store features a wall of Video games in their Tech department. While I understand the cheap dorm sized TVs, monitors, etc… I would figure most people, much less students, purchase games digitally as of 2021. I wasn’t expecting to find a “pillow dispenser” in this store, but I understand the logic, and it looked like it could have been refilled! Most other home organization, and accessories were of Target brands. The “home improvement” was mostly command strips, and different types of glue or tape, although that’s not too abnormal for Target these days, who have focused on soft lines as evident in this store.
Clothing & Checkout
Moving onto the final portion of the store, we end up in the apparel section. This was actually an intentional stop, as my brother had asked me to pick up a pair of swim trunks for when we would tube the river later. While there was a decent selection of women’s merchandise, there was almost no men’s clothing here. Two shelves of shorts, a rack of T-Shirts, and rack of polos, and prepacked socks and underwear were all that were to be found. The clothing section was relatively compact, with the dressing room not helping things. I believe the gray pillar next to it is an elevator to some second story offices. Or at the very least a back office for the front checkout. The women’s clothing was the only truly busy section of the store, making it difficult to get photos without people in them. Although upon leaving the store, you’ll notice no one was at the cash register. Staff was busy shelving items, and pulling pickup orders, coming to the register mostly to assist in the self-checkout process, although I assume they would ring you up if you asked nicely.
All in all, this was an fascinating store. I knew that Target Express locations were small, but I wasn’t ready for this. I could see this being a destination for local students, especially if the store stays open past Midnight (even to 12:30 AM) just to facilitate last-minute alcohol sales. It seems that Target’s mentality with the locations, formerly known as Target Express stores, is to stock the store with high need items, and serve as a pickup hub for anything else. This store is also not the only Target in town, with a full scale store operating on I-35 to meet the needs of most shoppers. This location actually serves in some ways as a replacement for 1180 Thorpe, Target’s first location in San Marcos, which closed after the I-35 store opened in 2009. The store seems to be well received by the community with a good number of customers who appeared to be Texas State students walking to the store down the hill from campus.