Department store executive and Target co-founder Douglas Dayton died Saturday of cancer at 88.
Dayton was the inspiration for the first Target stores and oversaw the development and early growth of the concept of an upscale discount store. Dayton served as Target's first president in 1961 and a year later he opened the first Target stores in the Twin Cities communities of Roseville, Crystal, St. Louis Park and Knollwood.
"Along with his brothers and cousin, Doug was instrumental in helping to guide the strategic direction of Dayton Hudson Corporation for many years and institutionalize the values that are at the heart of Target Corporation today," Target said in a statement.
After eight years of leading the Target business, Dayton returned to the corporate headquarters when his family owned department business merged with the J.L. Hudson Company in 1969 to become Dayton Hudson. After spending several years as a senior vice president, Dayton retired in 1974 and founded a venture capital firm that he ran until his retirement in 1994.
The groundwork Dayton laid for the Target helped establish a brand identity and unique value proposition that the retailer to flourish. Eventually, Target stores overtook the company’s conventional department store businesses which were sold to Macy’s and the corporation was renamed Target in 2000.
Dayton was the youngest of five brothers who joined his father’s department store business after being wounded in combat during World War II. Dayton is survived by his wife Wendy, his four children and six grandchildren.