Target's First President, Douglas Dayton, Dies At 88

Douglas J. Dayton, the co-founder and first president of the Target (NYSE:TGT) chain, died last week at the age of 88, Bloomberg reported.

Dayton was one of four brothers who took over the Dayton Company, the corporate name for the Dayton's department store in downtown Minneapolis founded by their grandfather, George Draper Dayton. In 1961, the company launched the Target Stores division to compete in the then-new "hypermarket" category, and opened its first store in 1961. By 1968, when Dayton left the division to return to the corporate headquarters, sales hit $100 million.

After the Dayton Company went public and then merged with the J.L. Hudson department-store chain, Douglas Dayton left the company in 1974 to start a venture capital firm, Dade Development Capital. He retired in 1994.

Dayton was born on Dec. 2, 1924, in Minneapolis and served in World War II as a mortar sergeant in Europe. He received the Purple Heart, then returned to the family business, first working at the Minneapolis store and then moving to Rochester, Minn., to run its first branch location in 1954.

Dayton and his brothers were responsible for several major retail innovations, including the first fully enclosed shopping mall in 1956 and the shopping-mall bookstore chain B. Dalton in 1966. But the Target chain, which the Daytons invented concurrently with other hypermarket launches in the early 1960s, was arguably the most significant; it eventually overtook the department-store chain that gave it birth. In 2000, Dayton-Hudson was renamed Target Corp.

For more:

- See this Bloomberg story
- See this Star Tribune obituary

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