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The Man Who Invented Target

From the time that F.W. Woolworth invented the five-and-dime store in the late 19th century, Americans have always been crazy about low prices. But it was Douglas J. Dayton and his family’s Target chain of stores who sold Americans on the idea that buying inexpensive wares at a discount store could be fashionable as well as frugal.

When Target opened its first store in Roseville, Minn., in 1962, a newspaper ad announced: “Here’s news for people whose taste runs to the better things in life – A new kind of discount store for people who demand and understand quality … [offering] better lines of everything from groceries to high fashion. And all at EVERYDAY DISCOUNT PRICES.”

Target LogoIn a 1961 newspaper interview, Dayton explained that the new store would “combine the best of the fashion world with the best of the discount world.” That attitude eventually evolved into stores with brightly hued interiors and shelves stocked with goods by name designers such as clothier Mossimo Giannulli and Jason Wu.

Here are some facts about Dayton, who died on July 6 at age 88 in St. Paul, and one of the biggest success stories in American business:


Here’s a video about the Dayton family, in which Douglas Dayton is interviewed.


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