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"The Book on Business"
September 2003
by the Business Librarians at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh

Previous Issues


HF5465.U64 T377 2003
On Target: How the World's Hottest Retailer Hit a Bull's-Eye

by Laura Rowley. John Wiley & Sons, 2003.

Tar-zhay fans - this book's for you! And if you are not a Target aficionado yet, after you read this you'll hop in the car and head for the nearest store sporting that catchy red bull's-eye. Bright, clean, stylish, whimsical, high quality, and best of all, cheap - and with a stock price that has far outperformed the S&P over the last 4 years - Target stores, 1148 and counting, seem to have found the magic formula for retailing in the 21st century. Here Ms. Rowley gives the low-down.

A "Fifth Avenue meets Main Street" philosophy fills the stores with striking, low-cost items that are irresistible to the upscale bargain hunter, and have the cachet of being created by a procession of trend-making artists and designers - Michael Graves, Todd Oldham, Philippe Starck - who have signed on with the company. Marketing has been inspirational, trading on an arresting and recognizable logo often displayed without a word, capitalizing on word-of-mouth by diehard fans, and sponsoring the highly visible and up-and-coming: Stars on Ice, the first TV Survivor series, celebrity charities. And all with impeccable attention to the standard retail basics of service, technology, merchandising, and pricing, not to mention handy access to inexpensive shampoo, toilet paper, and quarts of milk.

Rowley also narrates an absorbing company history - one that tells of virtue rewarded. Target Corporation had its start in the famed midwestern department store of Dayton's, founded by George Draper Dayton, born in 1857 and a prototype of the God-fearing, clean-living, all-American entrepreneur. He started out as a banker in Worthington, MN, and earned a reputation for such stellar integrity that when his bank was hit by the panic of 1893, it survived because - like those of George Bailey in "It's a Wonderful Life" - all his friends and customers rallied round to save it. The department store that he opened in downtown Minneapolis in 1902 soon became known for elegance, quality, honesty, and free delivery by horse or boat.

Generations of Dayton brothers have apparently continued the tradition of integrity, each one starting at the bottom of the corporate ladder. Honest dealing is the basis for Target's strategic plan, "Guides for Growth," crafted in 1973 and still in use today. Starting in 1946, corporate giving has been pegged at 5% of pretax income (compared to other companies' 1% in 2000, according to the Conference Board,) currently amounting to $2 million a week. And, like the bank that was saved a century earlier, in 1986 the corporation was saved from hostile takeover attempt by a grateful local community, who descended on the Minnesota legislature with demands for the company's protection.

Over time they opened more stores, shopping centers, the first enclosed mall in the United States (to keep Minnesotans shopping during their frigid winter,) B.Dalton Booksellers, and, in 1962, a mass retail outlet called Target, to compete with the new threat posed by infant Kmarts and Wal-marts. Yet Target was different: it was able to make the most of its classy department store parentage, and continues to do so today. From the very beginning, when they heard customers call it "Tar-zhay," the Daytons recognized that upscale discounting was the bull's-eye they were aiming for.

Forty years later, the question is: can Target hold on to its wow factor? Isaac Mizrahi is launching his new exclusive Target sportswear line at a "temporary retail concept" in Rockefeller Center. Last November, New York's billionaire Mayor Bloomberg was spotted applying for the Target Smart Card. But some dark clouds are gathering in the form of difficult economic times, declines in the department store divisions, rumblings over allegations of the use of overseas sweatshop labor (which the company denies,) and the looming presence of the behemoth competitor Wal-mart.

This book will make you eager to know the next chapter in this landmark story of the world of retail, or at least go shopping.

HF5547.5.O344 2003
The Office Professional's Guide

edited by Erin McKean. Oxford University Press, 2003

"Everything you ever wanted to know in one volume!" "The only source you'll ever need!" You've surely seen extravagant claims like these plastered on book jackets, but few actually measure up to the hype. But when you pick up a copy of the (definitely non eye-catching, blurb-free) Office Professional's Guide, be sure to notice that its subtitle is The Essential Reference for the Modern Office. Without flash or fanfare, this book, written by the reference staff of Oxford University Press, simply delivers what its title promises and more. Not sure how to make social introductions or plan an important business lunch? Are you at your wit's end because you have trouble dealing with difficult customers and colleagues? How can you manage your time more efficiently? Tips and strategies for such situations are now at hand.

The Office Professional's Guide provides an excellent overview of grammar, punctuation and sentence construction that you learned in grade school but might have forgotten. Bad spellers, take heart! You'll find lists of commonly misspelled words. And worry no more about when to use can/may, good/well, affect/effect, lie/lay, etc. because guidelines are given for many commonly confused terms. Basic accounting and business law principles and terminology are clearly explained as well. If your responsibilities include international correspondence, you will appreciate the 73- page list of common business terms translated from English to German, French, Spanish, Russian and Japanese.

Many offices have well-worn and venerable copies of similar books, but much has happened in the office world recently. This up-to-the-minute volume explains 38 features of today's highly complex telephone systems, offers advice on cell phone etiquette, and suggests terms that will not offend any of the many ethnic groups represented in our diverse workplaces. It even cautions about mistakes to avoid when using PowerPoint.

With a copy of The Office Professional's Guide on your desk, you can be confident that this indispensable guide will help you resolve many of the questions and situations that you'll encounter in your workplace. Be sure to keep it within easy reach because you'll refer to it often!

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Also recommended are:

I Went To College for This? How to Turn Your Job Into a Career You Love
by Amy Joyce. McGraw Hill, 2003.

Saving the Corporate Soul & (Who Knows) Maybe Your Own: Eight Principles for Creating and Preserving Integrity and Profitability Without Selling Out
by David Batstone. Jossey-Bass, 2003.

Contact the business librarians, who also answer questions about business, money, and work, at (412) 281-7141 or at www.carnegielibrary.org/locations/downtown/contact.cfm.


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