Sometimes it doesn’t pay to be the biggest. While Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, has been struggling of late, Target has been humming along in second place. Letting the big guys take the flak for everything that is bad about big-box retailing, Target has been signing up hip designers, keeping prices low, and establishing itself as a go-to brand for everything from trail mix to sundresses. The retailer even found itself playing a bit part in a scandal during the GOP primary race: While governor Mike Huckabee and his wife were on their way out of the Little Rock governor’s mansion, they were listed on the store’s wedding registry in an attempt to furnish their new home. (Wedding gifts are exempt from ethics laws in Arkansas. The Huckabees have been married for three decades.)
The decidedly un-hip former governor of Arkansas notwithstanding, working with designers like Alice Temperley and Erin Fetherston has certainly brought cachet to the retailer, particularly among the younger, suburban set — something that could eventually be reflected in the retailer’s still-struggling stock price.