Summer’s in full swing, and it’s prime road trip time! Families are filling their tanks, loading up on favorite snacks and choosing the perfect playlist for their epic adventures. We’re hitting the open road too, and not just for the sights and scenes of Mount Rushmore or the Grand Canyon. The Bullseye marks our spot. So, call dibs on the front seat and buckle up as we stop by Target stores across the country for local flavors and hidden gems from those who know their cities and communities best—our very own local Target teams!
First stop: Raleigh, the capital of North Carolina. The area’s known for top-notch education and high-tech/biotech research—and for its many oak trees, earning the nickname “City of Oaks.” Just a few miles outside of Raleigh is our Cary Target store. That’s where we catch up with Daniel Barker—store team leader by day, Carolina BBQ connoisseur and our unofficial Raleigh tour guide by night.
Daniel, give us the inside scoop. What are you and your team up to during the summer months?
We definitely make the most of the beautiful outdoors—we’re lucky to have the beach and mountains within driving distance (you’ll find me, my wife and our almost-1-year-old heading for the beach any chance we get). Right in Raleigh, there’s Greenway Trail, which snakes around the whole city, for great hiking, biking and running. And, with a ton of great college and pro sporting events, music, museums, theaters, and restaurants, there’s always something fun going on. Some of my team members especially love summer afternoons and evenings on Fayetteville Street—the food truck rodeo’s always a hit.
What’s on a typical summer menu in Raleigh?
Barbeque, of course! But, not just any meat seared on the grill—here in Raleigh, we’re all about BBQ pork, hot off the smoker and smothered in “eastern Carolina”-style sauce. It’s made with vinegar, not tomato-based, like BBQ sauce in other parts of the state and country. Add some fried okra, biscuits, collard greens and mac and cheese, and a little banana pudding for a sweet treat and you have the perfect comfort-food feast. (Or, skip the cooking altogether and grab a table at The Pit downtown for some really amazing eats). And, the craft brew scene has really taken off in the last few years, so, cap it all off with a local Raleigh beer. One of my favorites? Big Boss Brewing is just a few miles away and their “Bad Penny” is a big seller at our store.
Sounds like there’s lots to love about Raleigh. How does your team give back to the community?
I love that my team’s really diverse. I keep a map in my office with pins marking where everyone’s from, all over the world. The same is true in Raleigh. It’s a big city, full of incredible, diverse people, but still has a real sense of community. For us, whether it’s cleaning parks, volunteering at the food bank or filling backpacks to make sure kids are ready for school, sharing our time is the best way to be part of something bigger and show our community that we really care. And they, in turn, show up for us by shopping our store.
Is there one event that stands out?
There’s one day I look forward to all year—right before the holidays, the Cary Jaycees (a local young professionals group) sweep through our doors with this incredible crew of excited, wide-eyed kids from the area who need a little extra help for the holidays. There’s nothing quite like taking them up and down the aisles, on a treasure hunt of sorts, looking for just the right gifts. For them, it’s an adventure, and a bit of holiday joy they might not otherwise experience. For us, it’s chance to step out of our busy day-to-day and see the magic through the kids eyes—and feel like kids again, too!
Speaking of shopping, what’s hot at your store right now?
During the summer months everything’s hot here, literally (we often hit 90+ degrees and battle some serious humidity)! So we fly through coolers, ice, active wear and everything you’d need for a great outdoor adventure. And with three colleges in the area, my team’s got to be on the top of our game for back-to-college staples like bedding, bath and home décor for small space living—and of course, North Carolina State gear...because nothing signals the end of summer like the kick-off to football season!
Stay tuned for more local flavor from our stores teams as our summer road trip continues. And, if you’re planning your own trek, stop by your local Target store or Target.com for all your road trip must-haves.
Skyline and BBQ images courtesy of Michael Robson and Chris Adamczyk/visitRaleigh.com.
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