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That could have been us


News this week that Target would open its first standalone retail store offering its C9 brand of athletic apparel has the potential to be a big deal if Target follows the growth trajectory of another active lifestyle retailer.

Since going public a few years ago, Vancouver-based Lululemon Athletica has been one of the hottest concepts in retail, posting big same-store sales gains and rapidly expanding its footprint of stores offering all sorts of athletic apparel, footwear and accessories. At last count the company operated 108 stores in the United States and 47 in Canada.

Now Target is looking to open its own version of the concept that will be branded as C9 after the Champion sub-brand Target began offering in stores in 2004.

The San Fracisco Chronicle quoted Target SVP merchandise as saying C9 “has grown into one of Target’s most popular brands since its launch.”

The 3,000-sq.-ft. store will be located on the ground floor of the CityTarget store scheduled to open in San Francisco’s Metreon Center. The location is an interesting choice, but if Target really wants to prove the viability of the concept as a potential growth vehicle, it might have been better served distancing C9 from the new CityTarget format. Perhaps an enclosed mall or lifestyle center would offer a more meaningful read on consumer acceptance. Nonetheless, a standalone C9 store is a very intriguing idea that will be worth watching given the success others in the space have had.

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