In effort to better serve Black customers, Target taps north Mpls. clothing designer

A man holds a white baseball cap with the words 'Black Excellence'.
Houston White holds a baseball cap he designed with the words "Black Excellence." Minnesota-based retail company Target reached out to White about selling his merchandise in the reopened store on Lake Street in Minneapolis.
Courtesy of Houston White

When the Target store on Lake Street in Minneapolis was damaged and shuttered during the unrest this summer, the company saw an opportunity. It set out to create a store that felt “overtly welcoming” to Black shoppers.

The company gathered community feedback and connected with local Black entrepreneurs. The result, unveiled at a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Tuesday, is a new layout, new merchandise, and a difference that “felt genuine,” said Houston White, who is Black.

“When I walked in and I saw their dolls that reflect the community, there’s a brand that says ‘Black Excellence,’ there were all kinds of diverse team members, as well as a Black store head, it felt different,” White said. “It felt genuine. Even the music.”

The brand he referred to is his own. Target reached out to White in September about selling his merchandise in the store.

“I remember as a kid the first time I walked in a Target store, when I first moved from Jackson, Miss., and it seemed like a place that was larger than life,” he said. “So to be an adult and have my brand represented on the shelf, it felt surreal and a dream come true for a young kid from North Minneapolis.”

White joined MPR News host Tom Crann Friday. Hear more about the partnership and on reaching out to Black consumers by clicking play on the audio player above.

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