If it had to, Target Corp. could parallel park a store in Manhattan.

The discount retailer has an affinity for shoehorning its stores into some tight places in urban markets. That flexibility in store design will bode well for the Minneapolis-based chain as it opens 500 additional stores by 2011, giving it an edge on inner-city development compared with its rigid big-box competitor Wal-Mart Stores Inc. “Target has been more creative in the developments they've been going into and a little bit more aggressive in taking nontraditional spaces,” says Barry Fishbach, partner and executive vice president with Robert K. Futterman and Associates LLC in New York City.

Although Target didn't say where its new locations would be, Fishbach says he wouldn't be surprised if many of the new stores go into built-up areas such as New York City.

Wal-Mart's standard big-box approach limits its prospects for penetrating densely populated urban areas. “It's harder for them to open up as many stores in this market,” says Fishbach. “You're just not going to find the opportunities. They don't exist.”