Austin Target store closing; one of 11 locations nationwide

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Austin, Minnesota will soon be Target-less.

The company announced Tuesday the location in the southern Minnesota city is one of 11 nationwide that will be closed come Feb. 1, 2015. It's the only Minnesota store being shut down as part of the move.

"The decision to close a Target store is only made after careful consideration of the long-term financial performance of a particular location," the company says.

A reason for the closures was not provided, but a spokesperson told the Austin Daily Herald financial performance was a factor, and that Target closes stores that have multiple years of declining earnings. The store employes 83 people, she told the paper.

Any employee working at that location will have the option to transfer to a different store; those who don't transfer will be offered a "separation package," the company's news release says.

As for the left behind customers, a quick search on the Target store locator shows the two closest locations to Austin after the store closes will be in Owatonna (about 34 miles away) or Rochester (about 41 miles away). The Rochester Post-Bulletin describes the Target as one of Austin's "primary retailers," especially after the local Kmart closed four years ago.

Some residents are dismayed by the news.

On the location's Facebook reviews page, a few lamented the upcoming loss.

"This store cannot close, our town will be lost without a Target!" wrote one user Tuesday morning.

A "Save the Austin, MN Target from closing" Facebook event page was also created, with the page moderator prompting people to call Target and voice their displeasure.

"I feel that if we speak up and get as many people as possible to call we can save our store," the page says.

Eight of the 11 locations, including Austin, are in a city or town with a population below 40,000. Two of the remaining three – in Indianapolis and Wichita – are larger markets. The third, Monroe, Michigan, has a population of about 73,000.

Store closings haven't been a trend with the Minneapolis-based company in recent months, despite Target continuing to reel from a far-reaching 2013 holiday data breach and clumsy rollout in Canada.

The company did recently lay off 80 employees in its property management division, and won't fill another open 40 positions.

The Minneapolis-based retailer has completed major remodeling of some 1,300 stores, and is opening fewer new stores, so fewer people are needed in property management, according to MPR. Target spokeswoman Molly Snyder said the company has slowed the growth of its traditional big-box stores and is now focusing on smaller-format stores, like CityTarget and TargetExpress. Those miniature stores are targeted at high-density neighborhoods such as Dinkytown and St. Paul.

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