Target has been able to follow Wal-Mart's advances in technology, logistics and merchandising, which were proven during the 1980s and 1990s, and become the prime alternative. If you don't like Wal-Mart for one reason or another, you may be loyal to Target.

TheStreet recently re-itterated a buy rating on Target stock, and the company has been expanding rapidly in Canada, expecting to double its presence there by next year while selling its credit card operation to Canada's Toronto-Dominion Bank ( TD) so it can pay down debt and buy back stock.

And that's the real irony here. While the Daytons are Democrats and most Waltons are Republicans, it's Target that has always been the more conservative company. It has been slower to seize opportunities and has made big mistakes on the Web, leaving ( AMZN) in 2011 to build its own site, which, as IT Knowledge Exchange notes, quickly ran into problems. Wal-Mart has also made online mistakes, as Consumerist notes, but it's still built an $8 billion business.

It's one of the ironies of investment that a smaller company can often be a better investment than a bigger one because it has more room to grow. Target's been proving that for a decade now against Wal-Mart. Douglas Dayton's death is unlikely to change that.

At the time of publication the author had no position in any of the stocks mentioned.

This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.

If you liked this article you might like

Walmart Upping Current Worker Hours Instead of Hiring for the Holidays

Cramer: How to Avoid Being Amazon Roadkill

Walmart to Expand Food Stamp Acceptance Online

This Walmart Concept Just Saw the Most New Visitors in Over 3 Years