‘Learn by Doing’ and Other Lessons From Retail
When Ron Johnson began working in retail, he was entering a startup field. “That’s when Mickey Drexler first went to the Gap from a department store” and when “Les Wexner, of Limited fame and Victoria’s Secret, invented the modern specialty store,” he recalls. “That’s when big box retailing started.”
Johnson, who started his career on the loading dock of Mervyn’s, later went on to Target, where his idea for selling a low-priced tea kettle led the discount store to remake itself. In April, he was pushed out of JCPenney after failing to turn it around, but he had plenty of wisdom to share on May 19, when he spoke at a View From the Top event. There, the newly minted founder of the Johnson Partners investment fund revealed what three decades in retail has taught him.