My heart broke when I heard the news on Tuesday, March 10. Target had already laid off 550 employees in January, making many more fear for their future. But on March 10, the company sent 1,700 more employees packing, far greater damage than what was seen at the beginning of the year.
My first instinct was to text my friends from college to see where they sat. Graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Stout and beginning as an apparel design major, I became friends with many Apparel Design & Development majors, as well as Retail Merchandising Management students. Target hired many of these friends for well-compensated internships over the summers, which soon turned into full-time offers before they graduated.
On that Tuesday morning, I got terrible news. A friend of mine—we’ll call her Megan, thanks to the confidentiality agreement she signed with Target—joined many others, as she carried her career out of the office that morning in a brown cardboard box. Having moved from Wisconsin to Minneapolis to take the job a year ago, she was devastated. Where would she go now? It was a question that many Target employees would ask themselves in the next year.
[gdlr_quote align=”center” ]Everyone knew the layoffs were coming, but didn’t know who it would affect.[/gdlr_quote]
“[It was a] big surprise,” Megan admitted. “Everyone knew the layoffs were coming, but didn’t know who it would affect.” Megan said employees first heard of the news by word of mouth, but then were notified via email. She was unable to comment on how Target compensated their employees or whether they lent a hand for job placement.
Even today, Megan’s feelings about the layoff depend on the day. “Some days I am still in shock over the whole situation and other days I am thankful for the experiences and opportunities I had,” she said. “I still shop at Target, but not as often as I once did.”
Target’s CEO, Brian Cornell, plans to lay off thousands more and has hinted that it will happen within the next two years in a move to restructure the company. This comes after an unsuccessful launch in Canada, where Target lost $2 billion in two years, forcing them to close all of their 133 Canadian stores.
And that’s just a start. My friend Ashley (who also asked to be anonymous—not her real name), was hired at Target Commercial Interiors (TCI) on March 2, 2015. This came after receiving three different offers at corporate in the beginning of the year, all of which were withdrawn within two weeks before their start dates as a result of the cutbacks.
While TCI is not married to corporate (or even in the same building), it is, nonetheless, owned by Target. The company outfits hotels, casinos, golf courses, sports stadiums and fields, boutiques, and apartments with furniture and design. Ashley explained, “We help our clients and their architect partners to bring spaces to life with design, project management, installation, and facility and asset-management services. As a designer, we create appropriate environments from the largest scale to the smallest detail, taking on everything from space planning to fabric and color selections.”
Getting hired just days before the layoffs, Ashley said, “We were told that TCI was safe from layoffs, but that didn’t ease my mind since no one knew what the next 6 months or a year had to offer.”
Little did Ashley know, the future would offer this: as of June 1, a large transition will begin. Target’s commercial interior branch, TCI, will be sold to Minneapolis-based Omni Workspace Company/A&M Business Interiors Services, both of which are owned by Omni. TCI has worked with this service partner, Omni, for 30 years.
So what does the future hold for TCI? Ashley says a new name and corporate identity are in store. However, she says much more will stay the same. “That includes our talented team members and our strong focus on our clients. We will continue to operate as we do now, with the same leadership team and locations.”
But with this change comes disappointment. Some of the biggest changes will come with no longer being a Target employee. “As I say, and many in the office, losing Target is almost more of an emotional loss.” Ashley explained that many of her fellow co-workers have worked for TCI, Target corporate, or both for 10-25 years. Target has become a part of their identity. As for Ashley, she says “Target has been my goal to work for since I was going into school. But I have realized that Target isn’t what is use to be. They are going through a lot of changes and many people are starting to question it.”
The loss of Target as the parent company will result in a loss of the ever-famous Target benefits. Ashley considers these as some of the biggest losses:
- Bus pass. I had a discount with Target where paid $60 monthly. Without it, I will pay $120.
- Rent discount. I didn’t have to pay deposits and got a monthly discount for being a Target employee. When my lease ends, my rent will go up.
- The Target discount (at the store).
In the end, Ashley admits many positive changes will come with the new switch. “We will be able to be with a owner (OMNI) who is in the same business as us and network with new clients, whereas Target was a retail store.” Ashley also noted that decisions made about the company will move much quicker not having to get everything approved from corporate. But the greatest benefit is what will remain unchanged. “With this transformation, no one was laid off,” Ashley said.
Now that’s something to be thankful for.