Target reopens looted store as a symbol of its pledge to do better for Black communities

Discussion
Photo: Target
Nov 12, 2020
George Anderson

A Target store near its Minneapolis headquarters gained national attention in May when it was looted after the videotaped death of George Floyd drew national attention to excessive force by law enforcement officers in Black communities and racial inequality across U.S. society. Now, the retailer is reopening the store with the goal of doing better by this community going forward.

Target has remodeled the store to add another entrance and has placed the pharmacy near the front to make picking up prescription medicines more accessible to older customers and those who have a tougher time getting around. The store’s food and beverage section and product selection have been expanded as has the beauty and toy categories.

“It’s all about making sure the people who live in this community feel like this is home,” said Adrie Foreman, the human resources executive team lead at the store on Lake Street.

Locals, according to a Bloomberg report, did not feel at home at the store even after it was remodeled in 2018 to address the perception that it was “dirty, poorly stocked, and a bit of an afterthought” on Target’s part. White residents in the area, some of whom referred to the store as “Tar-ghetto,” drove to Targets that were further away rather than shop there.

Target reopens looted store as a symbol of its pledge to do better for Black communities
Photo: Target

The retailer worked with local contractors under diverse ownership and who supported youth training and employment opportunities to rebuild the store. The company also donated more than $125,000 in food and essentials to help those in need in the community while the store was shuttered. It also committed to 10,000 hours of pro-bono consulting services to help Black and other local minority-owned companies rebuild their businesses, as well.

Target CEO Brian Cornell pledged in September that the retailer would increase the number of Black employees it hires by 20 percent over the next three years. The company said it would “focus on advancement, retention and hiring” of Black workers from the frontlines to its executive offices.

Fifty percent of Target’s 350,000 employees are men and women of color, according to the retailer’s “Workforce Diversity Report.” Twenty-four percent of its corporate leadership team are people of color and nearly half of its board of directors are Black or Latino. One-third of Target’s stores are managed by people of color.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What is your assessment of Target’s response to racial equality protests in Minneapolis and elsewhere? Is Target’s response in line with the majority of large retail chains, or is it an outlier?

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Braintrust
"If you’re asking local people to shop with you, responding to community needs is simply good retailing."
"The fact that Target got this right speaks to the fact that a healthy share of their corporate leadership team are BIPOC."
"What this society needs is change — now — not a promise of change three years down the road."

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21 Comments on "Target reopens looted store as a symbol of its pledge to do better for Black communities"


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Mark Ryski
BrainTrust

I appreciate Target’s approach to this sensitive but important issue. In this case, Target is responding to the needs of the local community, but making an even bigger statement about their position on racial equality. Whatever your political leanings, I think it’s hard to argue that the steps Target is making are any but positive for all stakeholders involved.

Neil Saunders
BrainTrust

This is a sensible and appropriate response. However thinking about what local communities what, consulting them, and trying to use local services and contractors to undertake work is an approach that should be used everywhere. If you’re asking local people to shop with you, responding to community needs is simply good retailing.

Dave Bruno
BrainTrust

Once again, Target has impressed me. Target’s response to this extremely difficult situation is compassionate, generous and, most of all, aligned to the direct needs of that store’s local community. I applaud them for both their investment and their empathy.

Laura Davis-Taylor
BrainTrust

Agreed Dave. It takes character to publicly admit “we can do better,” then do better. Kudos and thanks, Target, for inspiring us with action as well as words.

Richard Hernandez
BrainTrust

I think this is a positive move – Target realizes that they need to support the community. In turn, customers will appreciate that and take care in ensuring the store will not fall into disrepair like the old location. Additionally, if they worked with community leaders in the rebuild, the buy-in will even be stronger.

Ricardo Belmar
BrainTrust
Target’s response is admirable even if it should not have taken such a sad event to spark this level of action. That said, Target is again flexing its leadership skills in the face of the retail industry. The approach Target took to remodel this local store should be a model to all retailers on how to properly invest in the local community and create a space that not only invites that community but encourages them to feel good about the brand relationship. Target’s diversity numbers look better than most retailers but what is more important is their commitment to taking them even further. Time will tell how effective Target is at achieving their stated goals, but from what we have seen so far I am optimistic. Now I only wish they would approach every store remodel in the same manner to create unique spaces across the country. To paraphrase what a friend of mine who has been a retail marketing executive at multiple brands once said – retailers spent decades trying to homogenize the in-store… Read more »
Ryan Mathews
BrainTrust
Sorry to be, what I’m sure will be, the lone dissenting voice here, but this is a classic example of too little too late. Think of the messaging. Target is saying to the community, “Sorry we opened a third-rate store, but it was a ‘bad neighborhood’ so we didn’t invest. Apparently, you folks weren’t happy, so you burned it down. And now, because the fact that we were at odds with the community has attracted national attention, we are going to make ourselves look good by building you a nice, big, bright shiny store.” Great — but why didn’t you build that great big, nice, shiny store in the first place? Then maybe folks wold not have been inclined to burn down the old, crappy one. I’m not justifying vandalism. It is wrong, and criminal, 100 percent of the time. But if a community feels like you have been exploiting them, why try to solve that problem by further condescension and media exploitation? Oh — and those hiring goals? Same problem. If I don’t have… Read more »
Perry Kramer
BrainTrust

Target is and for the most part has been setting strong examples for the retail community. Looking at the current employee demographics and the future commitments they are putting strong and clear actions behind their words. They are taking the right steps remodeling and reopening the store near its HQ. However it is only one very symbolic store. The difficult part will be to maintain the standards with the rest of the chain. With so many stores it is very easy to let the commitment slip, especially in stores that may not be at the high end of the profitability curve.

Gary Sankary
BrainTrust
Target had a unique opportunity to demonstrate how businesses can respond to issues of racial and social equity. They nailed it. They have demonstrated how to find positivity in a difficult situation. As a resident of the Twin Cities and having been a long time Target exec, I’m not surprised. The killing of George Floyd took place a mile and half from this store. This store is only two miles from Target’s downtown headquarters. This is Target’s home. But in many ways the east end of Lake Street is a long way from Target HQ. The comments that were quoted from Bloomberg are accurate, this is a part of town with economic challenges and the associated social issues. It would have been easy enough for Target to decide to just close up and move on, I suspect other national chains will do so. It would also have been easy to just award the rebuild to the least expensive contractor and not worry about who was doing the work. Instead they took a different path, insuring… Read more »
Scott Norris
Guest

In the Before Times, the store had a decades-long reputation for being heavy-handed on loss control measures: cages over merchandise, highly visible security staff and cameras, and throttled entrances/exits. Compared to stores 15-20 minutes away in Roseville, Fridley, Bloomington, or Edina, the shopping experience was not at all typical of Target and whether intentionally or not, communicated a message to the Lake Street community. South Minneapolis needs this store, and Target needs to get it right from day one – here’s hoping everyone succeeds as this will be symbolic of the rebirth of the community after tragedy.

Ryan Mathews
BrainTrust

Scott, I agree with one caveat: how could such an anomalistic example be unintentional?

storewanderer
Guest
17 days 21 hours ago

If the community treats this store the way they treated it in the past, how will they not be forced to bring back those heavy-handed loss control measures come the next time they do inventory?

Cathy Hotka
BrainTrust

Target just keeps doing everything right…

Heidi Sax
BrainTrust

The fact that Target got this right speaks to the fact that a healthy share of their corporate leadership team are BIPOC. According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Black professionals held just 3.3 percent of all executive or senior leadership roles in 2018. If other retail chains and businesses aren’t enlisting people of color in leadership and advisory roles, they won’t be able to respond as meaningfully to racial injustices.

Matthew Pavich
BrainTrust

Target continues to impress with both its response to handling the virus and to this important issue of racial inequality. Reinvesting in the community while making a commitment to diversity is smart both locally and nationally. When a major player like Target raises the bar, it can move others along and drive real change for many communities. In all cases, it appears to be the right decision at the right time and will reap dividends for all involved if it remains a “pledge” and not a “symbol.”

Cynthia Holcomb
BrainTrust

It is unfortunate that it was looting that led to a fresh, new, remodeled Target store in Minneapolis. But now the past is in the past. Moving forward Target hopefully is evaluating similar situations in other cities. Well-established community sentiment referring to this Target store as “Tar- ghetto” somehow missed moving up the ranks of Target leadership. All retailers of scale can and should tap into public sentiment at the local level of individual stores. Talk to employees, they know. Monitor social media. Walk the stores. Simple steps in a scaled-up retail world.

Harley Feldman
BrainTrust

Target is doing a lot of good by re-opening the store and helping the community in many ways. The truly sad part of the looting on Lake Street was that many of the small businesses were minority-owned. The looting and burning went for miles and damaged or destroyed 500 businesses. By Target re-building its store and helping the local community and businesses, the area will recover more quickly and strongly.

Target is a leader in working with communities. In Minneapolis, they have many stores, are well known and respected. Great leadership by Target to repair physical and emotional damage to the Lake Street community.

Patricia Vekich Waldron
Staff

I’ve always admired Target’s commitment to local communities, but this particular one seems to have resulted from a major wake-up call.

Steve Montgomery
BrainTrust

Target is taking the right actions with this location and its workforce initiatives. This is definitely a case of matching your efforts and investments to the policies they publicly profess. Unfortunately, that is not true of all companies.

Joan Treistman
BrainTrust

My dad used to draw an imaginary line behind him to suggest that which we did wrong and the wrong done to us needs to be put in back of us and we should move forward in a positive direction. Target seems to be doing that in a comprehensive way, at least in Minneapolis. But the thought process has to be maintained throughout the organization and its stores. Being conscious of and using construction companies that are diverse is a sign that Target knows what is needed to promote equality, at least to some extent. Target should keep up the pressure for itself and the vendors it uses, while delivering services, products, pricing and environments that also promote equality for Target customers and staff.

Craig Sundstrom
Guest

Speaking of equality: “White residents in the area … drove to Targets that were further away rather than shop there.” Isn’t it more accurate to say “area residents with cars drove”? I doubt race, per se, had much to do with whether/not people shopped there.

I think Target showed a very real commitment to equality by reopening a store which they could have very well closed; that was certainly a problem in decades past, as one chain after another pulled out of inner cities. And ultimately I think that’s what matters most: whether Target — and stores like Walgreens (which decades ago here in the Bay Area took over inner city stores that Safeway had closed) — continue to operate stores in areas that are diverse, both demographically and economically. Far more important than whether or not some company takes out an ad in the NYT to tell us how “woke” they (think they) are.

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Braintrust
"If you’re asking local people to shop with you, responding to community needs is simply good retailing."
"The fact that Target got this right speaks to the fact that a healthy share of their corporate leadership team are BIPOC."
"What this society needs is change — now — not a promise of change three years down the road."

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