The story of American merchandising is one of peddlers roaming the frontier, small merchants, Mom and Pop stores, department stores and, by the middle of the 20th century, discount megastores. Retailers want people to come, spend time and buy. They want consumers’ dollars and go to great lengths to make this happen. One of their methods is to open variations of their stores to attract different groups of consumers. The Target Corporation has created businesses that appeal to a mix of American consumers.

A Brief History


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The story of Target stores has roots in the 19th century. The first Hudson department store opened in Detroit in 1881. The Dayton department store chain began in Minneapolis in 1903. Over the decades both chains prospered and eventually merged. Dayton opened the first Target discount store in Minnesota in 1962. Dayton-Hudson later bought Mervyn’s department stores in 1978 and Marshall Fields, the iconic Chicago department store chain, in 1990.

The Target Market

By 2000 Target was the strongest chain in the company. The company changed its name to Target in recognition of its success, reflecting the growing dominance of discounters. All Dayton and Hudson stores were renamed Marshall Fields. Both Marshall Fields and Mervyn’s were sold in 2004. The company concentrated on the niche discount market Target carved. Target’s customers are more affluent than those of its largest competitors, Walmart and Kmart. Target made an effort to attract these consumers by offering better quality merchandise and more upscale brands.

The Three Targets


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There are three types of Target stores: Target, Target Greatland and SuperTarget stores. Targets carry a variety of general merchandise at discount prices. Target Greatland stores, averaging about 150,000 square feet, offer Target merchandise and some grocery items. The SuperTargets, which have around 175,000 square feet of retail space, are hypermarkets with a general merchandise store and a supermarket. The supermarket is at one end of the store. The stores have two entrances, one into the general merchandise store and the second for the supermarket. SuperTargets have additional retail businesses, such as fast food restaurants, a Starbucks and optical stores.


Target opened a fourth type of store in 2009 called PFresh. The stores carry general merchandise and a grocery store, but do not offer as wide a selection as SuperTarget supermarkets. They sell frozen foods, meat, vegetables and dairy products, and carry the Target Farms and Market Pantry brands of grocery products. They carry only a limited number of national brand grocery products.

Target Subsidiaries

Bullseye Inn opened in 2004 in the upscale Hamptons on Long Island, New York. The store concentrates on home and garden products, with a focus on summer living and entertaining. Target Commercial Interiors designs commercial space and sells office furniture. Target Brands oversees the company’s private label products. operates the ecommerce business. Target Financial Services issues credit cards. Target Sourcing Services locates merchandise around the world and imports the items into the United States.

The Future

Target is the second largest discount retailer behind Walmart. The company continues to expand around the world, introducing new concept stores and offshoots. The company has stores in India, and in January 2011 it announced a major expansion into Canada. It will operate over 100 Canadian stores by 2014.