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Cost of Bathroom Wars Is $20 Million for Target


This sign shows one way to label your restroom, to avoid bathroom wars.

Ever wonder the cost for trying to appease multiple interest groups? For Target Corp., it’s $20 million, which it will spend this year to add private, family restrooms to the rest of its stores, executives said in a conference call yesterday.

That’s after harsh criticism from the American Family Association and other conservative groups following an April announcement that transgender people could use any restroom of their choice at Target stores. It’s the latest skirmish in the ongoing bathroom wars sweeping the country, which all restaurant owners and retailers need to follow.

All but 300 of Target’s 1,797 stores already have private, single restrooms in addition to women’s and men’s restrooms, according to the Star Tribune of Minneapolis, which is also where Target’s headquarters is located. Most of the stores that don’t will be updated by November, with the remainder to have them by March 2017.

The controversy started after North Carolina passed its so-called bathroom bill in April, prescribing that people use the bathroom corresponding to their gender at birth, not how they identify today. Target issued a statement saying “everyone deserves to feel like they belong,” and specifically mentioning its “transgender team members and guests.”

The American Family Association started a petition against the policy that by May had drawn more than a million signatures. Target’s policy “means a man can simply say he ‘feels like a woman today’ and enter the women’s restroom … even if young girls or women are already there. Target’s policy is exactly how sexual predators get access to their victims,” the association said.

In the conference call yesterday, Target’s CFO Cathy Smith said, “Some of our guests clearly are uncomfortable with our policy,” the Star Tribune reported, which is why the private bathrooms will be added.

In our fall/winter Book of Brands, which will publish September 1, we include a story with guidance for restaurant owners seeking to deal with the new bathroom wars, so take a look. In the meantime, consider the sign we spotted recently, shown above, which may help to solve the problem.


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The latest news, opinions and commentary on what's happening in the franchise arena that could affect your business.

Laura MichaelsLaura Michaels is editor of Franchise Times. She can be reached at 612.767.3210, or send story ideas to lmichaels@franchisetimes.com.
Beth EwenBeth Ewen is senior editor of Franchise Times. She can be reached at 612.767.3212, or send story ideas to bewen@franchisetimes.com.
Nicholas UptonNicholas Upton is restaurants editor at Franchise Times. He can be reached at 612.767.3226, or send story ideas to nupton@franchisetimes.com.
Mary Jo LarsonMary Jo Larson is the publisher of Franchise Times Magazine and the Restaurant Finance Monitor.  You can find her on Twitter at




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