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Bryan Berg, Target Corp., Senior Vice President, Region 1

Question: How does big-box retailer Target enter a new market? Answer: Very carefully. Last January, more than a year before they plan to to open new stores in Salt Lake and Kapolei, a Target Corp. advance team was in Honolulu to attend the locations' ground breaking and to bone up on Hawaiian culture and Island traditions. Bryan Berg shared his thoughts on why it is good business to respect and connect with local communities and why Target representatives now bring a box of malasadas when they visit an Island business.

Bryan Berg, Target Corp., Senior Vice President, Region 1
Olivier Koning



Q: Tell me about your malasada strategy. Why was it important to adopt this Island-style ice-breaker?

A: We have wanted to come to Hawaii for a number of years. Getting here early wasn’t as important as doing it the right way. We want to make sure that we are respectful of the culture and traditions of the Hawaiian people, and we are trying to learn from the experiences of others. I’m certainly not an expert, but some of the things that I found interesting about Hawaii were the aloha spirit, the gift giving and the relationship-based culture here. It’s very special.


Q: Target’s arrival is one of the most highly anticipated in the Islands’ retailing world. To paraphrase Renee Zellweger in Jerry Maguire, “You had us at hello.” Why is it so important to do all this groundwork when the public is waiting for you with open arms?

A: We have a tradition at Target of paying very close attention to the communities we serve. We not only want to understand them so that we can deliver a product that we can be proud of but also so that we can connect with the people we do business with. These are long-term, sustainable ventures. My dad used to be a carpenter, and he would always say: “Measure twice and cut once.” That’s what good carpenters do. That’s what good businesses do.


Q: So how you are entering the Hawaii market isn’t unique in this regard?

A: No. Many Target markets are unique, and they all have their own nuances. But what makes Hawaii particularly unique and special is the logistics of running a business in the Islands.

Also, you have all these rich cultures and traditions and we’ve got to understand them and make sure that we make the appropriate accommodations and adjustments to the way you do business here.


Q: Besides taking along malasadas on appointments, what other adjustments did Target make?

A: Well, the blessings [ground-breaking blessings held last January] are very special events for us. [The blessing at Kapolei Commons was] the first land blessing that I will have been to in 25 years in the business, and, to my knowledge, it is the first that we’ve ever done. It’s unique and exciting from our perspective.


Q: But I understand that Target’s community involvement doesn’t stop at the grand opening?

A: We have a long tradition of donating 5 percent of our operating profits back into the communities we do business in. That now equates to $3 million a week in giving, more than $200 million of giving in 2007. We focus on education, the arts and social action. We’ll be sponsoring the Hawaii Book and Music Festival in May and we have plans for other events. We encourage volunteerism in our team members as well as look for projects that not only make a difference but ones in which our employees can give back as well. We’ve been doing that going back to our department store roots in the 1940s. I think it’s a big part of our success. I think our guests like to do business with people who are concerned about their neighbors and committed to making the community a better place to live.


Q: What are Target’s long-range plans for Hawaii?

A: We’ll be opening three stores in ’09, Kapolei and Salt Lake in March and Kona in July. We would clearly love to have more than three stores in the Islands and as soon as we can find the appropriate location, we will. There are a lot of issues to balance around that [including] traffic and congestion, and we have to make sure that we are embraced and wanted by those respective communities. I can’t say anymore, or I’ll give our real estate guys a heart attack.


Q: Are you going to sell malasadas at your Hawaii stores?

A: I don’t know. But I gotta tell you, I love them.

- Interviewed by David K. Choo

Hawaii Business magazine invites you to comment on our articles and the issues they raise. Comments are moderated for offensive language, commercial messages and off-topic posts and may be deleted. Some comments may be chosen for inclusion in the magazine on the Feedback page.

Old to new | New to old
May 7, 2008 12:42 am
 Posted by  robert ward

Im a vendor for hawaiian oil paintings here in hawaii . Could you tell me who to the buyers office for this item...Thanks

Robert Ward
Real Art Co

Nov 5, 2008 01:20 am
 Posted by  Beverly Orbello

I am the owner of a small trucking company, MPD, Inc. dba Multi Products Distributors, and I would like to know who I can contact at the Target Hawaii store to offer our company's services for transporting freight containers to/from the shipping docks to the store and vice versa. We are located in Kapolei so it would be very convenient for Target to use our services.

Please e-mail me the information at Should you have any questions for me, please call me on my cell at
479-3953 or you can e-mail me also.

Mahalo...Beverly Orbello, President of MPD, Inc.

Jul 14, 2009 05:12 pm
 Posted by  callparo

I just want to say I hope Hawaii gives Target a chance. A lot of people are so used to shopping at Wal Mart and think that Wal Mart is the cheapest place to shop. Yes, many items are cheap but many other items are just as expensive as other stores. Wal Mart doesn't always carry the same item, or it is always out where as you can count on Target having what you want. For example, I couldn't find the Bukugan? toys, even at Wal Mart, and Target had them on sale. I think people in Hawaii should take some time to look around Target and see what they have. Sometimes you want to give someone special a really special gift, and Target is the place to go. Also, when you go to Wal Mart, you are mostly on your own, where as Target employees are always trying to help you find what you're looking for. Last but not least, when Target puts things on sale, it is very exciting to see how low. I hung out in Evansville, Indiana for awhile, and I used to Shop till I Dropped!
We have to slowly change our thinking from Broke--- Mentality to Abundance Mentality. Welcome Target! to Hawaii

May 31, 2011 11:01 am
 Posted by  DANGER!!

Target is in Hawaii...Beware! In my experience, Target treats it's employees very poorly, limits higher level positions to younger, inexperienced people and pays poorly. Also in my experience, Bryan Berg is central to many of the problems.

You got him now!!! For better or worse!!! I'm just glad he's gone!!!

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