Women’s gymnastics falls at home

Venture into the physical heart of downtown Minneapolis, and one will inevitably encounter the original Dayton’s department store. Founded in 1902, Dayton’s has grown into 19 stores, created a $34 billion business now known as Target Corp. and pioneered the first indoor shopping mall, known as Southdale. Accordingly, to many Minnesotans, Dayton’s has become more of a prized part of our culture than just a retail chain. Venture into the heart of downtown Chicago, however, and there stands the original Marshall Field’s, founded in 1852. This Marshall Field’s, which itself grew into 24 stores and was bought out by Dayton’s in 1990, will now be replacing Minnesota’s beloved Dayton’s.
To many, Dayton’s has long resided in the heart of Minneapolis, and Minnesota as well. The Minneapolis store’s eighth floor Christmas show is a holiday tradition, not just for Twin Citians but for residents of outstate Minnesota, as well. Mary Tyler Moore’s hat toss and Dayton’s will forever be associated. In nearly every city and suburb in which a Dayton’s resides, it has become the favorite shopping destination. Now, however, the plan of Target Corp. to expand their department store presence on the Web will deprive Minnesotans of a part of our tradition.
Target Corp. decided that all of its department store franchises (Dayton’s, Hudson’s, and Marshall Field’s) will now operate under the Marshall Field’s name. According to the company, the department stores’ names are being unified because of its plans for a larger presence on the Web; for business purposes it is simpler to put all their energy into one successful e-commerce business than into three separate ones. Initially, it appears that the Marshall Field’s name was chosen because it has a mere five more stores than Dayton’s and three more than Detroit-based Hudson’s. However, decision-makers argue that Marshall Field’s has more worldwide recognition because of its Chicago home base and nationally famous Christmas storefronts.
Surprisingly, the Dayton family seems to welcome the change. While the business has been publicly traded since and the family no longer has any part in its operations, the last directly involved family member, Bruce Dayton, stood behind the decision. He also stated that the founder — his grandfather — would have agreed with the decision. However, newly elected Sen. Mark Dayton hears Minnesotans’ pleas for the familiar and argues that the name change will hurt business in Minnesota.
Unfortunately, Target Corp. does not fully understand the context in which the decision was made. Lately Minnesota has lost a great deal of its corporate heritage to national or newly created brands. Recently Norwest has become Wells Fargo, Honeywell has relocated, NSP is now Xcel, USWest is Qwest, and now, Dayton’s — perhaps our most cherished brand — too is gone. Target Corp. is ensuring that our rich past and cultural heritage is buried under national and synthesized names. Now, unfortunately, it seems the movie Fargo is what will endear us northern folk to the rest of the nation.