The hard Northern winter shows on the faces of these Target shoppers in this 1966 photo. The Target story began in 1962 when the Dayton Company, a venerable 60-year old Minneapolis-based department store chain, decided to capitalize on the discounting trend by setting up its own discount division. At the time, the company had five full line Dayton’s department stores in Minnesota, including their downtown Minneapolis flagship, plus Fantle’s department store in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, which Dayton had bought out in 1954. By 1962, they had also developed some notable shopping center properties, including the well-known Southdale Shopping Center in Edina and the more recent Brookdale Shopping Center in Brooklyn Center, both Twin Cities suburbs.
The early years of Target appear in retrospect to be marked by fairly slow, cautious growth, especially when compared with the chain’s remarkable expansion in the last few decades. Starting with four stores in 1962 – Duluth, Roseville, Crystal and St. Louis Park, they added a fifth Minnesota store in Bloomington in 1965. The first two stores outside of Dayton’s home state were opened in Denver in 1966.
I think it’s safe to say that during those early years (and for some time afterward) Dayton hadn’t the slightest hint that Target would ultimately become the company’s bread and butter, to say nothing of its future profound influence on mass retailing in general. Remarkably, for many years the Target operation would officially be known within Dayton (and later Dayton-Hudson) as the “Low-Margin Division”, I kid you not. Definitely this was an unglamorous name for a chain that would later become synonymous with affordable chic.
Now, of course, the entire company is known as Target Corporation. The Dayton’s stores (and their erstwhile stepsiblings Hudson’s and Marshall Field’s) were sold off to The May Company a few years back, and then to Federated, where the familiar Macy’s logo with its famous red star now reigns on the former D-H stores.
The checkstands in this photo sport the original Target logo. A year later, in 1967, Target would revamp its logo with thicker rings and a filled-in bullseye, creating an enduring retail icon.