Target has a reputation for providing high-quality goods and catering to a shopper’s every need.
The store didn’t start that way, though.
It began as a dry goods store with only one department.
However, after many years in the business and changes to its mission statement, Target has become one of the most successful mass retailers today.
That said, you may wonder if Target belongs to another retailer or owns the successful chain of stores.
Here’s what you need to know about Target and who owns it.
Who Owns Target?
The Target Corporation owns Target and all of its department stores and subsidiaries.
This company wasn’t always known as The Target Corporation, however.
Before it changed its name in 2000, the company that owned Target was Dayton-Hudson Corporation.
To make it easier to understand which stores the company was associated with, it changed the name to The Target Corporation.
The CEO of The Target Corporation is Brian Cornell.
He took the reins of the company in 2014 and has been leading the mass retailer since.
How Did Target Begin?
Target didn’t become the success story that it is today overnight.
It’s been around for 100 years, and during that time, it has seen several changes.
Here’s a brief history of Target and its owners over the years.
The first owner of Target was George Draper Dayton.
He was born in 1857 in upstate New York.
Early in his life, Dayton felt a strong moral responsibility to one’s community.
He wanted to become a minister at first but, instead, found himself having a calling in the business world.
In particular, he started buying farm mortgages and also presided over a bank.
With this experience, he started to look for growing markets in the country to find the best place to begin a store.
He believed that Minneapolis looked the most promising, especially in the Midwest.
He and his family moved from New York to Minneapolis.
Once there, he took charge of the Minneapolis Loan and Investment Company and started earning more wealth.
With that wealth, he gave back to his community.
He even started the Dayton Foundation to improve the lives and wellbeing of the local community.
Eventually, he bought some land in Minneapolis for a department store and created Dayton’s Dry Goods store.
At the time, the store only had one department.
Dayton’s belief was to sell high-quality products that were dependable.
Customers flocked to the store, and he found great success.
Formation Of The Dayton Corporation
In 1911, things were looking great for the store.
The company decided to change its name from Dayton Dry Goods Company to The Dayton Company for simplicity’s sake.
The change also made branding easier to understand since the store was starting to sell more than just dry goods.
It was also selling certain services.
At this time, the name Target still didn’t exist.
The store was simply known as Dayton’s Department Store.
During the 1920s, the store faced a problem.
There was a strike occurring within the railroad industry which made it impossible for stores to receive inventory.
Dayton relied on his warehouses and shipping partners in New York to deliver stock via the railroads.
With the workers on strike, Dayton faced a serious problem.
He’d have empty shelves and very unhappy customers.
He decided to do something that few retailers had attempted.
He hired two planes and commercialized them.
In particular, he invested in two Curtiss Northwest Airplane Company planes.
The planes carried 400 pounds of goods at the time and flew to Minnesota.
At this point in history, this was the longest commercial flight that had ever happened.
When the planes landed, they made quite the stir, and a parade was even held in their honor.
Suffice it to say, the store did very well with the added publicity.
This choice would make long-distance commercial flights the norm.
The Second Owner Of Target
After much success, George Draper Dayton eventually died of cancer.
He was 80 years old.
Besides creating an incredibly successful department store, Dayton’s main contribution was his philanthropic work.
He started several foundations, and one of which would later become The Target Foundation, that contributed to the welfare of people across the world.
Following his death, the leadership of the store fell to his son, George N. Dayton.
The younger Dayton wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps of giving back to the community that had so generously helped them.
To do that, he started the practice of giving 5% of the store’s pretax profit to the community.
The store was only the second retailer in the country to do this.
The Third Owner Of Target
George N. Dayton led the store successfully for several years until his death in 1950.
The ownership of the company, and thus the store, fell to his son, Donald C. Dayton.
Donald was George Draper Dayton’s grandson.
Although Donald took charge as president of the company, all of the Dayton grandchildren would eventually find themselves in key leadership positions within the company.
Those grandchildren included:
- George II
It was in 1953 when some drastic changes started to occur within the store.
First, they introduced a new section in their store called Interiors.
It sold various pieces of furniture, fabric, and decorations for the home.
The interior department was geared towards businesses at first.
This department would eventually become known as today’s Target Commercial Interiors.
In 1954, the store also had its first expansion.
It remained within Minnesota to test this venture but chose Rochester as the site for a second store.
The Dayton Corporation also wanted to expand to other areas.
It saw a need among suburban families who didn’t enjoy traveling long distances to go shopping.
It decided to bring together several competitors and open its stores in the country’s first mall.
The mall, called Southdale Mall, brought together several different stores in one building.
It saw major success, and The Dayton Company decided to open a few more malls in the Minneapolis and St. Paul area.
The Beginning Of An Icon
The 1960s saw a lot of changes to The Dayton Company.
Douglas Dayton was still the president of the company and had an interest in pushing the limit of what the store could provide for its customers.
One of the new introductions he made was a floral department.
In 1960, the Dayton store opened its first flower show.
It showcased several different types of flowers from around the world.
The show was free for customers and gave them insight as to some of the spring colors and fragrances the store would sell later in the year.
In that same year, the company started toying with the idea of becoming a mass retailer.
At the time, most industry leaders cautioned against becoming a mass retailer.
The belief was that, by becoming a mass retailer, one would lose one’s dominant position as a department store.
The Dayton Company wanted to provide new experiences for its customers.
In particular, they had an interest in servicing customers who were looking for discounted goods that still held high value.
In 1961, they decided to risk it.
The plan was to open a store with 75 departments in it.
The departments would range from fashion to household goods and other necessities.
They emphasized having wide aisles, large parking lots that were brightly lit, and a fast checkout experience.
The official Target name and logo came about in 1962.
It was Stewart K. Widdess who was responsible for coming up with the name and logo as the company’s Director of Publicity.
He believed that the logo and name were perfect because they symbolized the goal of a marksman aiming for the bullseye and being the go-to place for every shopper’s need.
The first Target was officially opened on May 1, 1962, in Roseville, Minnesota.
The company would go on to open a few more Target stores in St. Louis Park, Duluth, and Crystal, Minnesota.
The stores receive huge success as it provides discounted goods on items of great quality.
It encourages the company to open its first store outside of the Minnesota area.
The city of Denver, Colorado was chosen as the site for the next Target store in 1966.
Due to its sudden growth, The Dayton Company had its Initial Public Offering in 1967.
At this time, the company also transformed.
Donald Dayton became chairman of the board.
Taking his place as president of the company was Bruce B. Dayton.
The company was also split up into five autonomous divisions.
- Dayton’s Department Stores
- Target Stores
- B. Dalton Booksellers
- Dayton Jewelers
- Dayton Developmental Company
The company also updated the Target logo into something more familiar as today’s logo.
Due to its growth, the company realized that it needed its own distribution center to help ensure the timely shipping of its products to its stores.
It opened its first distribution center in Fridley, Minnesota.
In 1969, the company would change once more.
It joined with the J.L. Hudson Company based in Detroit, Michigan.
The resulting merger changed the company to The Dayton-Hudson Corporation.
This merger made The Target Company one of the 15 largest retailers in the country that doesn’t serve food.
The company also reinforced its stance on providing for the community.
It promoted an Earth Day event in its stores for the first time in 1970.
It also created a new program called the Holiday Helpers in 1973 to help disabled and senior guests at their stores make their purchases.
In 1975, the Target part of the company becomes its leading revenue generator.
Nearing the end of the 1970s, the corporation also realized that it needed to change its leadership.
To ensure the corporation would continue to deliver great service and growth, many of the main leaders retired.
Wallace, Donald, and Douglas Dayton all retired in 1978.
In 1983, the last remaining members of the Dayton family also retired from the company.
Bruce B. Dayton and Kenneth N. Dayton retired, which signaled the end of the direct ownership of the corporation and involvement with it by the Dayton family.
It was also during 1983 when Target stores would start to open in California.
Expansion To The Southeast
In 1989, Target set its sights on the southeastern region of the country.
It opened 30 stores in the following states:
- North Carolina
- South Carolina
This expansion marked the corporation’s success in opening its stores from coast to coast in the United States.
As the 1990s began, Target also decided to buy Marshall Fields.
The corporation suddenly became one of the leading retailers in the Midwest as a result.
The year would also mark the opening of Target Greatland.
This is a larger Target store and also includes a food court and ATMs.
In 1993, the corporation would set a record by opening 11 new Target stores in the city of Chicago all on the same day.
Target also opened various private brands during the 1990s.
This allowed them to save on some costs while still providing high-quality goods at discounted prices for their guests.
As the decade closed and the world transitioned into a new millennium, the corporation embraced the future early by opening its Target online store.
It also began to offer various credit cards for its guests to use within their stores.
The Target Corporation
At the start of the new millennium, the corporation decided to change its name.
It transitioned from The Dayton-Hudson Corporation to The Target Corporation.
The change would clarify things and help customers associate the company with the ownership of the stores.
At the start of 2001, Target stores were in 47 out of 50 states in the United States.
In 2008, it would finally open a few stores in Alaska.
Like many of its other stores, Target started to shift the products it sells based on its regional location.
The company wanted to sell the products that it knows its customers actually need and will use.
This emphasis on local shopping experiences, despite being a national chain, helped Target exceed $50 billion in sales.
In 2009, Target further expanded to Hawaii and began selling products local to the Hawaiian population.
Another major introduction occurred in 2010 with Target’s opening of its fresh food department.
Guests could finally buy a variety of produce and other food items in the store’s grocery department.
The Current CEO
In 2014, Target hired Brian Cornell as the new CEO of the Target Corporation.
He also became the chairman of the board.
Cornell has a long history of working with various retailers.
The jobs on his resume include the CEO of PepsiCo America Foods, the CEO of Sam’s Club, and the CEO of Michael’s.
He got his start as the CEO of Safeway.
Cornell has a desire to continue to accelerate Target’s growth and performance.
In particular, he’s interested in expanding Target’s online dominion and finding new ways to make shopping easier for the store’s guests.
Cornell is the current CEO of Target.
Under his leadership, Target has continued to be involved in giving back to its community.
Several new programs have started aimed at improving the lives of children, the sick, and those in need.
It also partners with CVS to open pharmacies within its Target stores.
This allows guests to do their shopping and take care of their medications in one place.
They also doubled down on their commitment to their employees.
They raised their employees’ hourly rates to $15 an hour to help them live more prosperous lives.
Target also purchased Shipt in 2017.
That company aims to let guests pay other people to shop and deliver their groceries for them.
Shipt would go on to work with other retailers and became especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic beginning in 2020.
Target has transformed considerably over the years, but it still holds true to the basic foundation on which the company was built.
The corporation delivers high-quality products at discounted prices and uses its wealth to benefit others in various ways.
Although the Target Corporation owns Target and is currently led by Brian Cornell, it continues to pay its respects to the Dayton family who started it all.