Duluth gets credit for ‘Tarjay’ nickname

An obituary in the Washington Post this week for Douglas J. Dayton — the first president of Target and uncle of Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton who died of cancer July 5 at age 88 — described how he turned a subsidiary of his grandfather’s company into the successful discount chain Target.

The late Douglas J. Dayton, the first Target president, gave Duluth credit for the store’s “Tarjay” nickname. (2010 file, Clint Austin / News Tribune)

“We will offer high-quality merchandise at low margins because we are cutting expenses,” Dayton said, according to Laura Rowley’s book, “On Target: How the World’s Largest Retailer Hit a Bull’s-eye.”

Enter the phony French nickname, as written by the Washington Post:

“Mr. Dayton said customers began calling the chain ‘Tarjay’ — imbuing the name with faux French glamour — as early as 1962.”

“Duluth was the first place I heard it,” Dayton said, referring to the store’s fourth location.

And now you know. This Eh? desker and lifelong Duluthian has used the nickname for years without being aware of its origin.