MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Target’s massive workforce reduction is the latest milestone in a company that has a long and colorful history in Minnesota.
The Dayton Company, which had popular department stores throughout the Twin Cities, decided to launch something new in 1961 — a discount chain.
The first Target store opened in Roseville in 1962. Target had become the number-one revenue producer of the Dayton-Hudson Corporation by the 70s.
Target set out to convince us it was cool from the start, with weekly ads boasting big savings.
University of Minnesota Professor George John, who studies retail trends, says Target was different from all the rest.
“It wasn’t just a big box with merchandise piled all over the place. They had sort of fashion-forward items in certain categories that were really kind of fashionable, the cheap-chic notion,” John said.
By the 1980s, Target stores could be found across the nation.
“Slowly, all these manufacturers of the big brands let their product become available at these discount stores,” John said. “So the market grows.”
Target offered customers a store credit card in 1995 and opened the first SuperTarget store in Omaha, Nebraska.
“You can see they added pharmacies and they added groceries. That’s the idea, just to get you in the store more often,” he said.
Target was doing so well by 2000 that the Dayton-Hudson Corporation renamed itself Target Corporation to better reflect its core business. One thousand stores were now open.
As the number of stores grew, so did the number of Target employees. A new corporate headquarters was built in downtown Minneapolis in 2001.
But in the late 2000s, as the recession set in, the tides began to turn. Target, like most retailers, found itself struggling.
“It’s just that things change, times change. We don’t eat as much cereal as we used to, so all the food companies are struggling,” John said. “We don’t shop the way we used to because we don’t have as much money in our pockets.”
John doesn’t believe Target got too big. He believes the downturn of the economy took its toll, and that after the company’s restructuring it should continue to be a major retailer.