Why are these two people in such a good mood?
Well, let's start with who they are: Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel and Neiman Marcus CEO Karen Katz. They are showing off some of the merchandise Target and Neiman co-created for the holiday season during a preview for the media last month in New York. Both Target and Neiman have high hopes this partnership will boost sales throughout the holiday season.
As I write this, Target executives are on the way to New York for the collection's debut fashion show Wednesday night. The retailers, which will also promote the merchandise in a pop up store, will officially launch the collection Saturday. We'll have a story in Sunday's Business section.
In the meantime, here is a sneak peek at the collection:
Anyone who has ever read this blog knows that I'm not a big fan of Black Friday (or shall we say Black Thursday night). The crowds, the noise, the sheer nakedness of American capitalism on display for the world to admire or mock.
But even I got a little rush waiting for the doors open at the Target store in Bloomington. About 50 people waited outside before the doors opened at 9 p.m., hardly a mob. In fact, I've seen more three times as many people line up outside of Best Buy in Roseville around 4 a.m. a few years ago. Go figure.
Ten minutes before the store opened, a Target manager tried to lead the store employees in a mini-rally but was quickly interrupted when some moron knocked over a bunch of DVDs. That moron would be me.
Making matters worse, Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel witnessed the event, the second time I embarrassed myself in front of the man. (More details in a later blog post).
"I'm glad I'm not you," a Target spokeswoman whispered to me.
Thanks much. I feel better.
Speaking of Steinhafel, I spoke to the CEO for a few minutes. We'll post some of our video later on startribune.com. Steinhafel seemed to be in a good mood, as any CEO would be when customers are about to tear the store apart on Black Friday.
But this year will be slightly different. Steinhafel is hoping to extend the sales momentum Target usually gets on Black Friday all the way to Christmas. Normally, people would buy up stuff the day after Thanksgiving and the wait until a few days before Christmas before crowding the stores again.
Beginning on Dec. 1, Target is launching an extensive collaboration with Neiman Marcus that features exclusive merchandise, including clothing, accessories, and even a bicycle, from dozens of prominent designers. Steinhafel says he's confident the collection will keep shoppers in Target stores throughout the holiday shopping season.
Target also has high hopes for its digital efforts. In addition to a bug free website, Target has installed free Wi-Fi throughout its stores (I'm using it right now) and QR codes on select merchandise. Shoppers can scan the QR codes with their smartphones and find more information online. They can even compile their own digital shopping list. Customers can also find the QR codes outside the stores on bus shelters and buy the item right there.
Until now, Target has never really been known as a high tech retailer. Steinhafel hopes that will change this year.
Hi everyone. Happy Thanksgiving. By now, most of you are starting (or maybe finishing) Thanksgiving dinner. After that, it's time (for better or for worse) to hit the stores for Black Friday shopping.
I'll be speaking to Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel in Bloomington before Target opens its doors at 9 p.m. And then off to Best Buy in Eden Prairie at 10 p.m. to try something different this year. Best Buy doesn't open until midnight but I will be shadowing the store's manager to get a first hand look at how employees prep, manage, and survive the craziest shopping day of the year.
Stay tuned to this blog for the latest updates. If you don't see anything, send in the Marines. They might need to peel me off the wall once retailers open their doors.
It may not have attracted the same national controversy as last year but there are still plenty of people annoyed at Target Corp.'s decision to once again open its stores on Thanksgiving night for Black Friday.
A Target employee Monday delivered to corporate headquarters a Change.org petition containing 350,000 "Save Thanksgiving" signatures. As they did last year, Target officials politely accepted the petition but otherwise defended their decision:
"The enormity of asking some of our store teams to work on Thanksgiving night is not lost on us," Target vice president of human resources Tim Curoe said in a statement. "We recognize some team members are cutting short time with their families to work. And so, once again, to our team, and to their families and friends, we say thank you."
“And yet, we've heard from many of our team members that they are supportive of our plans, excited to get additional hours, holiday and incentive pay, and understand the need to compete," he said.
I sympathize with anyone who has to work on Thanksgiving night but it's a lost cause. Despite the outcry, retailers are opening even earlier this year. Last year, Target opened its doors at midnight; this year it's 9 p.m..
Critics say they don't believe Target's argument that customers want these hours. But shoppers vote with their feet and dollars. And the truth boils down to this: it cost a lot of money for Target and retailers to open their stores early. They wouldn't do so if they didn't see a demand or financial benefit.
For Target and Richfield-based Best Buy, doing business in the hurricane-swept Gulf Coast region this summer turned into an ongoing exercise in crisis management. The wind damage, flooding,looting and mass evacuations were just the start, with the aftermath of the storms proving every bit as challenging. From reopening damaged stores to finding displaced workers (or any worker), the events in Louisiana and Mississippi will serve as the ultimate case study on how retailers can cope with natural disasters, company executives say.
I wrote the above story in October 2005 from New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina swept through the Gulf Coast. Now, almost exactly seven years later, I could simply cut and paste the paragraph and replace Gulf Coast with Mid-Atlantic and Louisiana and Mississippi with New York and New Jersey.
Just as Hurricane Katrina knocked retailers off balance so did Hurricane Sandy as the powerful storm swept through the Mid Atlantic region. Both hurricanes caused massive flooding that forced retailers and other businesses to rewrite their natural disaster response plans: store damage, curfews, employee communications, blackouts, mass evacuations, etc.
As of Wednesday, Target said all but three of the 200 stores the company shuttered on Monday are open. Ten other stores have reduced hours, mostly due to damaged lights in the parking lots.
“Our teams are working diligently to make contact with all team members,” Target spokeswoman Jessica Deede wrote in an e-mail. “Given the large number of stores impacted, we anticipate this process to take place over a few days.”
About 40 Target stores are still operating on backup generators. Many stores suffered damage to front doors and roofs, which are leaking water, Deede said.
As for Best Buy, spokeswoman Amy Von Walter said about 30 stores are still closed or opening at later hours.
Both spokeswomen declined to comment on the storm’s possible financial impact on Target and Best Buy’s fourth quarter performance.
The Crazy Target Lady is dead. Long live the Crazy Target Lady.
Target Corp. has officially retired the “Crazy Target Lady” holiday character. My thin ear drums and shaky nerves humbly thank the Minneapolis-based retailer.
In its place, Target will soon debut the “Deals Duet,” a slightly less annoying commercial that features a man and woman helpfully advising shoppers with re-worked lyrics to popular Christmas songs.
Under the leadership of new chief marketing officer Jeff Jones, the retailer is already running holiday ads featuring Bullseye the Dog called “Dream Big, Save Bigger.”
Crazy Target Lady has been a mainstay part of Target’s holiday shopping campaign, especially the days leading up to Black Friday.
In the commercials, local actress Maria Bamford plays a slightly demented, feverishly obsessed fan of Target’s Black Friday deals. Sporting a red tracksuit, Crazy Target Lady plots strategy and even pumps iron to prepare for what’s obviously the most important day of her life.
Personally, the character makes me want to reach for a restraining order instead of my wallet.