Target Company History Timeline

(15,809 Jobs)

In 1902, George Draper Dayton bought the Goodfellow Dry Goods store in Minneapolis, and after several name changes it eventually became Target.

Target Corp. is an American general merchandise retailer headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States It was originally founded under the name of Dayton Dry Goods Company by George D. Dayton, in 1902.

The Target Corporation's history dates back to 1902, when a man named George Dayton opened a store called Goodfellows in Minneapolis, Minnesota.


With several partners, he formed the Hudson Motor Company in 1909.


In 1918 the Dayton Foundation had been established with $1 million.

In 1918 he founded the Dayton Foundation, and his family would later commit the predecessor of Target Corporation to donating 5 percent of profits to charity.


Dayton's son David had died in 1923 at age 43, and George turned more and more of the company business over to another son, Nelson.


Following George D. Dayton’s death in 1938, son George N. Dayton was named as the president of The Dayton Company and began to grow the company into a nationwide retailer.

Dayton, with no previous experience in the retail trade, wielded tight control of the company until his death in 1938.

George Draper Dayton died in 1938.

Nelson Dayton took over the presidency of Dayton Company in 1938, when it was already a $14 million business, and saw it grow to a $50 million enterprise.


In February 1946, Dayton's was the scene of a frenzied moment in shopping history.

Since 1946, 5 percent of Dayton Company's taxable income was donated to the foundation, which continued to be the case after the merger.

Starting in 1946, Dayton began donating 5 percent of its annual profits to local charities.


After Dayton’s death in 1950, the company began to expand.

Until Nelson Dayton's death in 1950, the company was run along the strict moral lines of his father, its founder.

With Nelson Dayton's death in 1950, Dayton Company embarked on a new era.


In 1954 the J.L. Hudson Company, which would eventually merge with Dayton's, opened the world's largest shopping mall in suburban Detroit.


Later, in 1956, the company would create a milestone in the retail industry when it built the world's first fully-enclosed shopping mall.


In 1962 Dayton's, a Minneapolis-based department store chain, opened its first Target store in Roseville, Minnesota.

In 1962, it opened its first Target store in Roseville, Minnesota.


In 1967 the company changed its name to Dayton Corporation and made its first public stock offering.

The Dayton Company initial public offering (IPO) took place in 1967.


Also in 1968 the company acquired department stores in Oregon and Arizona.

In 1968 it bought the Pickwick Book Shops in Los Angeles and merged them with B. Dalton.


In 1969, Dayton Corporation joined forces with the J.L. Hudson Company of Detroit and merged to form the Dayton-Hudson Corporation.

Dayton's in 1969 merged with another retailer, Hudson, to create Dayton Hudson.


Dayton Hudson bought two more jewelers in 1970—C.D. Peacock, Inc., of Chicago, and J. Jessop and Sons of San Diego.


By 1971 revenues topped $1 billion, and DHC acquired Mervyn's of California to become the seventh largest retailer in the United States.


The foundation inspired the Minneapolis Chamber of Commerce in 1976 to establish the Minneapolis 5% Club, which eventually included 23 companies, each donating 5 percent of their respective taxable incomes to charities.


California-based Mervyn's, a line of moderate-price department stores, merged with Dayton Hudson in 1978.


Also in 1979 the Target chain become Dayton Hudson's largest producer of revenue, eclipsing the department stores upon which the firm was founded.

That year Dayton Hudson became the seventh largest general merchandise retailer in the United States, its revenues by 1979 topping $3 billion.


Dayton Hudson bought Ayr-Way, an Indianapolis-based chain of 50 discount stores, in 1980, and converted those units to Target stores.


Revenues in 1982 topped $5 billion.


The expansion continued when Kenneth A. Macke took control of the company in 1983.


In 1984, meantime, the operations of the company's two full-service department stores were combined into a new unit called the Dayton Hudson Department Store Company, though the Dayton's and Hudson's units themselves retained their separate identities.


Graves had previously won an industry award for a tea kettle he designed in 1985 for the Italian firm Alessi, which retailed for $140.


Revenues topped the $10 billion mark in 1987.

Dayton, George Draper, II, Our Story: With Histories of the Dayton, McDonald, and Winchell Families, Wayzata, Minn., 1987.


In 1989 the corporation received the America's Corporate Conscience Award for its magnanimity, and Target contributes more than $2 million each week to the communities in which its stores are located.


Meanwhile, Dayton Hudson continued its acquisitions, purchasing Marshall Field & Company from BATUS Inc., the United States subsidiary of B.A.T. Industries PLC, in 1990 for about $1 billion.

In 1990, DHC acquired Marshall Field's.

DH kept its independence and grew again in 1990, when it purchased Marshall Field's stores from B. A. T. Industries.


In 1994 Target executive Robert J. Ulrich was named chairman and CEO of Dayton Hudson.

By 1994, revenues topped $20 billion.

Total annual sales were almost $40 billion under CEO Robert Ulrich, who took over in 1994.


Target stores became even bigger in 1995, with the introduction of the first SuperTargets, 175,000-square-foot units that offered groceries in addition to the items traditionally available in a department store.

Also during the decade, DHC launched the first Target Greatland store, and its Club Wedd bridal gift registry went nationwide in 1995.


By the close of 1996 the foundation had donated over $352 million to social and artsbased programs.

Along with expanding its traditional department stores along the East Coast, six new SuperTargets were planned for 1996 alone.

By 1996 the country could boast 4.97 billion square feet of retail space—an average of 19 square feet per person nationwide—but retailers felt the pinch caused by such a large number of stores courting increasingly spending-shy consumers.

In 1996, Target's Mervyn's subsidiary was forced to cut costs or face restructuring.


Significantly, in December 1997 Sears hired Robert Thacker, former vice president of marketing for Target, to run its strategic marketing and promotion.

During 1997, as part of its drive to turn around the Mervyn's chain, Dayton Hudson sold off or closed 35 Mervyn's outlets, including all of that chain's stores in Florida and Georgia.

The latter was most forcefully promoted in "Take Charge of Education," for which Martin/Williams had created a spot called "Ding Dong" in 1997. "Ding Dong" starred Morgan, who went from door to door selling products that ranged from candy bars to birdseed in order to raise money for his school.


In November 1998 Target joined Columbia TriStar Television Distribution (CTTD) in a $10 million cross-promotional deal tied to the variety talk show Donny & Marie, starring singers Donny and Marie Osmond.

By 1998 the Guest Card had attracted nine million accounts.

With more than 860 stores and sales of $20.4 billion, Minneapolis, Minnesota-based Target in 1998 pursued a broad-based advertising and marketing effort designed to further an upscale image and bring in wealthier consumers.

Total spending for television, radio, print, and other forms of advertising by Target in 1998 was estimated at $50 million.

In 1998 Target began a marketing effort to promote the program.

In 1998, they reached $30 billion.

During this same period the corporation quietly developed an e-commerce strategy that involved managing its own online distribution. It bought Rivertown Trading Company, a Twin Cities-based mail-order firm, in 1998 for $120 million to handle fulfillment, marketing, and distribution services for the e-commerce efforts of all the corporation's retail units.


In January 1999 Target ran a full-page ad in USA Today showing the Washington Monument alongside the company's well-known bull's-eye logo.

All health-related or pharmacy purchases resulted in a donation to St Jude Children's Research Hospital, the United States' largest center for treating children with pediatric cancer and other serious illnesses. It was expanded to include a school-uniform program in which Target credit-card holders received 10 percent off, and in 1999 the company worked with Golden Books Entertainment on the "Read-In" literacy program, which provided books for children to read in Target stores while their parents shopped.


The growing predominance of the discount chain led the corporation to rename itself Target Corporation in January 2000.

The Dayton-Hudson Corporation was renamed to Target Corporation, in 2000.

According to Forbes, it is considered one of the top 2000 largest public companies in the world.

Online retailing gained a larger profile in early 2000 with the formation of a separate e-commerce unit called Target Direct.

The combination of national branding and upscale designer housewares propelled both Target's sales and its reputation to such heights that in 2000 the company that had founded it (by then Dayton-Hudson Corporation) formally changed its name to Target Corporation.


Target was planning to launch an online gift registry during 2001 and wanted to do so under a unified department store name.

In 2001 Target introduced a Target Visa card, aimed at customers who preferred not to carry several charge cards.

In 2001, the Target division generated about 80 percent of retail sales and operating profits, while Mervyn's generated about 12 percent of revenues and 8 percent of profits, and the Department Store Division generated about 9 percent of sales and 12 percent of profits.

Heading into 2001, the company had consistently demonstrated growth.

Officers: Robert Ulrich, Chmn. and CEO, 57, 2001 salary $2.2 million; Gerald Storch, VChmn., 44, 2001 salary $1.1 million; Douglas Scovanner, CFO and EVP, 45; Gregg Steinhall, Pres. of Target Stores, 46, 2001 salary $1.6 million; James Hale, VP, Gen.

dpi. "target corporation announces emergency logo change." susannah's soap box, 2001. available at

The corporate name change to Target was followed in 2001 with the renaming of all Dayton's and Hudson's stores to Marshall Field's.


In a bold move designed to attract an upscale clientele and garner widespread media attention, the Target Corporation purchased all of the advertising space in the August 22, 2005, issue of the New Yorker magazine.

Curtis, Bryan. "Target: Discount Retailer Goes to the New Yorker." Slate, August 17, 2005.

In 2005 Target was the number-two discount retailer in the United States, behind Wal-Mart and with Kmart number three on the list.


Dubovoj, Sina; Shelton, Pamela L.; Salamie, David E. "Target Corporation ." International Directory of Company Histories. . (April 15, 2021).

Company Founded
Minneapolis, MN
Company Headquarter
George Dayton,John Geisse
Company Founders

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