Skip to content

30 Surprising Things You Never Knew About Target

Behind the deals, there's a shockingly illustrious history.

Suffice it to say that in this day and age, it's almost impossible not to shop at Target. The company's website alone has more than 1 million visitors—daily. And even if you prefer brick-and-mortar to online shopping, the company's nearly 2,000 stores offer ample opportunity for you to do your shopping in person.

But while Target is a popular destination both virtually and literally for savvy shoppers, most people don't actually know the facts or figures behind this retail giant. Herein, we've rounded up some surprising Target facts that even the most devoted customers probably don't know.

Target Corporation wasn't the company's original name.

Dayton Dry Goods Company

When New York native George D. Dayton opened the business now know as Target Corporation in 1902, he did so under the name Goodfellow's Dry Goods Company. In 1903, Dayton became the sole owner of the business and changed the name to Dayton Dry Goods Company—and it wasn't until 2000, after several more name changes, that the business officially became Target Corporation.

The first Target store opened in the 1960s.

Target Cart {Bad Target Bargains} {Best Impulse Buys From Target}

Though Dayton formed his business in the early 1900s, it wasn't until the 1960s that the first Target store opened in Roseville, Minnesota. During its grand opening on May 1, 1962, the new store was touted as "a store you can be proud to shop in, a store you can have confidence in, [and] a store that is fun to shop and exciting to visit." By the end of that same year, three other Targets had already opened.

The company used to also own department stores.

marshall field's store target

What many people don't know is that Target's parent company, Target Corporation, didn't always just own Target stores. Up until 2004, the company also owned a number of department store chains (such as the Marshall Field's in Chicago), but it decided to give those up in favor of focusing on making the Target brand flourish.

Target made its first $1 billion in sales in 1979.

Worst Things to Say to a Cashier

For the Target Corporation, 1979 was a monumental year. It was during this time that the company saw its first $1 billion in annual sales from its 74 Target stores alone—and to celebrate, they put on a "Billion Dollar Sale" for all their loyal customers.

The company received an award from Ronald Reagan.

ronald reagan success quotes, insulting politicians

Target isn't one of those companies that's just about making money. In fact, the organization has historically made such an effort to give back to the community that in 1983, it was even awarded the President's Committee on the Arts & Humanities Medal of Honor—by President Ronald Reagan—for its encouraging efforts in the arts and social welfare.

They once opened 11 stores in one day—all in the same city.

Chicago Bean Tourist Traps That Locals Hate

In 1993, Target expanded into the city of Chicago. However, when they made their move into the Windy City, they decided to do so with a bang—by opening not just one, but eleven stores all on the same day.

The company has its own test kitchen for R&D.

woman with a clipboard taking notes in a kitchen

Have you ever wondered how Target comes up with the recipes for its in-house brand products? Much of that research and development takes place in the company's test kitchen, where food scientists formulate and test out potential new items. And apparently, the company's kitchen even hosts a Cake Week five times every year, where more than 100 designs are evaluated. Yum!

It's a popular destination for back-to-school shopping.

ends of pencils

Few companies are able to outrank Amazon these days in pretty much any category. However, one 2017 survey found that Target was actually more popular than Amazon as a back-to-school shopping destination, with 64 percent of respondents saying that they planned to hit up Target for their school supplies compared to just 50 percent who planned to shop at Amazon.

It has its own credit card.

Target credit card REDcard
Image via Flickr/Mike Mozart

If you're a frequent flyer at your local Target store, then you might want to consider investing in a Target REDcard. The company's card—which comes in the form of a debit card or a credit card—comes with special perks like free shipping, 5 percent off of all purchases, and an extended return window for all items.

Their low prices are intentional.

target sale section

It might sometimes feel like you're getting deals at Target that are too good to be true, but don't worry: that's exactly what the company wants. When the first Target was founded in the 1960s, it was created, according to the company's website, as "a new kind of mass-market discount store that caters to value-oriented shoppers seeking a higher-quality experience."

The company's founder originally wanted to become a minister.

religious texts valuable items in your attic

George Dayton didn't always envision himself as the founder of a company worth billions. Rather, the entrepreneur originally moved to Minnesota from New York with the intention of becoming a minister, but his plans changed when he came upon business prospects that were too good to pass up.

Target tried (and failed) to expand into Canada.

Canada has been leading the pack in Movemember
Umair Zia Khan/Shutterstock

In March 2013, Target opened its first store in Canada and quickly expanded to 133 Canadian locations by January 2015. However, a combination of aggressive competition and limited selection kept Target Canada from succeeding—and in April 2015, the company's Canadian branch closed down for good, citing losses of $2.1 billion.

People have been calling it "Tarjay" for decades.

target shopping cart
Image via Flickr/JJBers

People love to jokingly pronounce Target as though the store were a fancy French boutique, but what they might not know is that this tradition dates back decades. As Douglas Dayton, the first president of the Target Corporation, has noted before, people have been making that quip since the chain's creation in 1962.

The company helped repair the Washington Monument.

washington monument DC

In the late 1990s, the Washington Monument underwent some long-overdue repairs that cost upwards of $5 million. And while you might think that these restorations would have been paid for via taxes, they were actually covered in full by Target, both through fundraising efforts and direct contributions.

The chain stopped selling cigarettes in the 1990s.

quitting smoking gets rid of wrinkles

Nowadays, it's practically more difficult to find a chainstore selling tobacco products than it is to find one that puts the health of their customers over profit. But back in the 1990s when the fight against tobacco wasn't as strong, Target became one of the first big retailers to stop selling cigarettes (evidently because, for them, it was too costly to keep them out of the hands of minors).

One of the founder's relatives is the governor of Minnesota.

rochester minnesota humid places

The influence of the Target empire expands well beyond business. Though much of the founding family chose to go into the family business, one of George Dayton's great-grandsons—Mark Dayton—opted for a slightly different path, and he is currently the governor of Minnesota and a former senator from the state.

The median age of a Target customer is 40 years old.


Target attracts customers of all ages and demographics, but the company has found that their average consumer is about 40 years old with a household income of approximately $64,000 annually.

They're a prominent force in the fashion retail market.


Target's adorable and affordable clothing products make them a force to reckon with in the fashion industry. Seriously: According to one survey of more than 10,000 people conducted by Market Force Information, the company tied with TJ Maxx for people's favorite value retailer, and narrowly beat competitors like Marshall's and Nordstrom Rack.

They're the eighth-largest retailer in America.

credit card
dean bertoncelj / Shutterstock

In 2016, Target's annual sales of $69.495 billion made them the eighth largest retainer in the United States, just after Amazon.

The name Target relates to the company's low prices.

Target logo

Ever wonder what the name Target is all about? According to the company, it was chosen because "as a marksman's goal is to hit the center bulls-eye, the new store would do much the same in terms of retail goods, services, commitment to the community, price, value, and overall experience."

Vermont was the last state to get a Target store.

vermont church

Up until recently, Vermont was the only state in America without a beloved Target. However, that all changed in late 2017, when the company announced that they would finally be opening one of their stores in South Burlington in 2018.

Bullseye was introduced as a mascot in the late '90s.

Target bullseye dog advertisement
Image via Target

Most people today associate Target with Bullseye, the adorable bull terrier with the Target logo circling his eye, but she actually wasn't introduced to the company until 1999. It was at that time that the company aired their first commercial with the famous dog—and after she proved to be a success amongst customers, she became a staple in future commercials and advertisements alike.

Target's shopping carts are eco-friendly.

target bullseye shopping carts

Not only are Target's red shopping carts on brand, but they are also good for the environment. That's because according to the company, these carts are made of recyclable material. (And bonus, they weigh as much as 20 pounds less than the typical metal ones!)

Target's pharmacies are owned and operated by CVS.

CVS Pharmacy is one of americas most admired companies

Though the two companies are competitors in many ways, Target and CVS made a $1.6 billion deal in 2015 to convert all of the Target pharmacies into CVS Health locations. Not every Target location has a pharmacy, but the ones that do have them have allocated control to CVS.

Those red balls outside the store serve a purpose.

target ball
Image via Flickr/Paul VanDerWerf

Any seasoned Target shopper can easily recognize the giant red balls, or bollards, that sit outside every Target store. And while these balls might just seem like decorations, they are actually placed outside to prevent rogue shoppers from driving their cars into the store.

The company has a special app just for savings.

Target Cartwheel app
Image via Cartwheel

If you're a frequent flyer at Target, then do yourself a favor and download the Cartwheel app. The company recently created this app in order that its customers might find additional coupons and savings to use both in the store and online.

Most of their sales are made in person.

Handing Credit Card Over

Though most businesses have found more success in expanding their online retail business, Target has actually found the opposite. In Q3 of 2o16, though e-commerce sales grew 26 percent, just 3.5 percent of all of Target's sales came from the company's online stores.

There are more than 1,800 stores in the United States.

Target sign

There's a reason you feel like you see Target stores everywhere you look. According to the company, there are currently 1,839 Target stores in the United States.

Their mascot has a wax figure at Madame Tussauds.

Bullseye Madame Tussauds

Alongside Lassie, Bullseye was one of the first dogs ever to be memorialized in wax at Madame Tussauds in New York City. What a good girl!

Target donates unsold items to other companies.

goodwill secondhand store

When products don't sell on the floor at Target, the company will donate them to thrift stores like Goodwill in the hopes that they can find a good home.

Filed Under