They’re two of the biggest names in retail and if one Minneapolis-based financial analyst is right, they could join forces before the end of the year. I’m talking about Amazon.com and Target Corporation. The implications of such a merger from a bike friendly perspective are interesting, to say the least.
Minneapolis-based Target is already a bicycle friendly company in what many observers feel is the most bicycle friendly city in America. In fact, Target has been a platinum (highest level as named by the League of American Bicyclists) bicycle friendly business since 2014. Not long ago, the League of American Bicyclists published an article about bikes in the boardroom and referenced Target as well as 3M, another Twin Cities-based company, as examples of Fortune 100 companies that are truly committed to bicycle friendliness.
Then there’s Amazon. The company is currently reviewing proposals for a second company headquarters. One of the highly publicized requirements was that the winner of what pundits have dubbed HQ2 would be a bicycle friendly city. An Amazon-Target merger might render the headquarters competition moot. They’d have their bicycle friendly location as well as one of the best bicycle friendly partners they could ever want.
But regardless of all that, there’s something bigger going on and it’s important. Bicycle friendliness is rapidly moving from a peripheral issue to the very core of corporate America. Part of this is self-preservation. The most successful companies are always struggling to attract the best talent and bicycle friendliness draws the people these companies need to be successful. That’s the primary reason that Amazon went off in search of a new headquarters to begin with.
But another part of it transcends corporate interests. It’s about customers and community…big picture stuff. This is important to Target, so important that they put out a corporate social responsibility report each year. This is not some new trendy thing for them, either. I know because I did a case study on the company (then known as Dayton Hudson Corporation) as part of my MBA work way back in the late 1980s. Nobody was doing this sort of thing back then. They were the exception to the rule. They still are, but now bike friendly is a big part of their mission.
And so I’m optimistic heading into 2018. The biggest, most successful companies in America are now opening embracing bicycles as a way of attracting talent and they are building organizations that allow that talent to cycle to and from work. An Amazon+Target combination would only help by providing high profile visibility to bike friendliness. If so, it could cause a whole bunch of bicycle friendly dominoes to fall our way.