Target Nods to ‘The North’ with Outdoors-Inspired Collab

The big box chain partnered with Askov Finlayson to release products, back a regional movement for renaming part of the Midwest, and offer a winter activity grant to 1,000 kids in need.

target Askov Finlayson the north Minnesota product line
‘North’ stocking hats are an anchor product from Askov Finlayson

The stocking caps started to crop up a few years back. On icy streets and sledding hills in the Minneapolis area, knit headwear proclaiming “NORTH” in all-caps glory became a small rage.

Trendy but also just plain logical to wear on an average below-zero Minnesota day, the hats were a pet project of Eric and Andrew Dayton and their outdoorsy store Askov Finlayson.

While most Americans consider Minnesota a part of the Midwest, the Daytons did not feel that geographical moniker to be right for the snowy and woodsy lands of their home state.

They hoped to spur a conversation – the knit-font hats a part of that – around a rebranding, with “The North” standing in as an official, proud new term for the region.

In Minnesota, Worshiping Winter At 'The Great Northern'
In Minnesota, Worshiping Winter At 'The Great Northern'
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Target Teams with Askov Finlayson

The news this month is that Target, the 1,800-store big box chain based in Minneapolis, has hopped on the North wagon too.

A press release states Askov Finlayson “comes to Target in a limited-edition partnership that celebrates the spirit of adventure and creativity in the place we both call home.”

Available in January (and in time for Super Bowl LII in Minneapolis this year), Target will unveil more than 50 North-themed products.

baby onesie the north
For kids: ‘North’ infant onesie

As part of the partnership, Target and Askov Finlayson will provide a grant to Minnesota nonprofit Wilderness Inquiry.

The “Share the North” program provides underserved youth and people with disabilities access to winter outdoor education. They will snowshoe, cross-country ski, construct quinzees, build fires, and learn to cook outdoors in the snow.

Together, Askov Finlayson and Target will fund 1,000 participants in the Share the North program.

50 Products: Target ‘The North’ Release

Clothing and accessories for men, women, and kids are included in the upcoming product release. There is the famous stocking hat (image at top of article) as well as mittens, scarves, sweaters, an infant onesie, and an inflatable tube-sled.

For your requisite hygge indoors after the winter action, there are coffee mugs and a candle with dual wicks.

Eric Dayton worked closely with Target “on every aspect of the collaboration, from product design to the materials used, to even the labels and in-store displays,” he said.

Inflatable snow tube for sledding
Sledding? Inflatable snow tubes are a part of the release

“We also worked with Target on sourcing and are proud to use a lot of domestic production, including a couple of key Minnesota partners.”

Thirty-eight Target stores in and around the Minneapolis/St. Paul area will sell the products, and they will be available on for national distribution starting January 14th. Askov Finlayson will sell some of the items at its flagship store in Minneapolis’s North Loop neighborhood.

Regional Connections

Beyond a professed love of winter and their regional pride, the Dayton family has a deep connection to Target.

Indeed, the Daytons’ great-great-grandfather founded Dayton Dry Goods more than 100 years ago. It was the company that would eventually become Target.

Eric Dayton worked at the company’s headquarters in 2005 after college as a business analyst. Target also supports The Great Northern, a 10-day winter experience Eric Dayton cofounded that launched last year.

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Back to the Askov Finlayson release at Target, the full product spread will be unveiled next month. Prices will be $5–40.

We asked Eric Dayton about his favorite item in the lineup. He picked the inflatable tube sled (photo above).

“I had memories of sledding as a kid with a very specific inflatable sled, and I wanted to buy one for my 4-year-old son but couldn’t find it anywhere! So we basically recreated that sled [for this collection].”

Target nods to the Super Bowl as a big reason behind the collaboration. Rick Gomez, chief marketing officer at Target, notes the partnership “shines a spotlight on the spirit of the North during a time when all eyes will be on Minnesota.”

–An event to release the Askov Finlayson for Target collection will be held at Minneapolis’s Theodore Wirth Park on Jan. 14. Activities to include snow tubing, outdoor movies, dogsled rides, and a pop-up shop where guests can purchase products from the collection. Monitor Target and Askov Finlayson on Facebook for details.

Stephen Regenold

Stephen Regenold is Founder of GearJunkie, which he launched as a nationally-syndicated newspaper column in 2002. As a journalist and writer, Regenold has covered the outdoors industry for two decades, including as a correspondent for the New York Times. A father of five, Regenold and his wife live in Minneapolis.