The new Target on State St. has been open only a month, but it already has a nickname among Michigan students –the Tiny Target –and it is bustling with customers.

On a recent Sunday, staffers were busily stocking empty shelves cleaned out of inventory by weekend visitors. I asked one employee what was selling fastest. “Groceries,” she immediately replied.

Perishables and other food items take up about half the space at the Target, which took over the ground-floor spot beneath the State Theatre that Urban Outfitters occupied for twenty-one years before it closed last Christmas.

At about 12,000 square feet, it’s one of downtown’s biggest retail spaces–it’s only tiny compared to its older siblings on Carpenter Rd. and Oak Valley Dr. While those megamarts are still the core of the company’s business, Target wants to attract younger customers and urban dwellers with similar “small format” stores near colleges such as Boston University, New York University, and the University of Kentucky. It expects to open about thirty per year in the next few years.

The store has a well-stocked baking section that includes Jiffy corn muffin mix, walnuts, and Kodiak Cakes whole-grain pancake mix.

An entire refrigerator case and other grocery shelves stood empty, with signs reading “Look for something new coming soon.”

Surprises included pillows, comforters, shower curtains, and small appliances, presumably on hand for downtown apartment, condo, and dorm dwellers.

In mid-October, shelves near the store entrances were stocked with Halloween decor, as well as a big crate of fresh pumpkins, while a selection of jigsaw puzzles and candy shared space.

A line of customers waited to use the self-checkout machines. There are also clerks to process purchases, and customers have the option of placing preorders for groceries and other goods and collecting them at a service desk.

U-M senior Asha Lewis dropped in as soon as the Tiny Target opened. “I was really curious what it would look like,” Lewis says.

Since she owns a car, she doesn’t plan to buy food there but is glad that choice is available to students who can’t easily get to big stores on the outskirts of town.

Lewis said the grocery selection differentiates Target from the CVS and Walgreens stores nearby that sell similar toiletries and makeup but don’t offer as much food.

“It’s really great for the Michigan community to have a grocery store within walking distance, because there are really no other options that are both fresh and affordable,” Lewis says. “It really does make campus an easier place to live.”

Target, 231 S. State St., (734) 205-1869. Mon.-Fri. 7 a.m.-10 p.m., Sat. & Sun 8 a.m.-10 p.m. Vulnerable-customer shopping Tues. 7-8 a.m.