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August 30th, 2006

Macy’s: Way to Upset!

Last year, Federated Department Stores bought the Marshall Field’s chain and took its time to announce it was renaming all of its stores to Macy’s. Chicagoans got pissed – really pissed – and there’s been a lot of backlash ever since. I’ve been by the store on State Street a couple times within the past two weeks and I can vouch for its weirdness: the traditional green Marshall Field’s clock stands above the garish red Macy’s star; the Marshall Field’s logo, what little is left of it, is white-on-red instead of green-on-white as it’s been forever; the awnings and details on the building are changing from green to black.

This has affected all of the old Field’s locations, including one in rich Chicago suburb Lake Forest. But instead of just accepting that everything at their Field’s location would switch over to black and red, they put incredible restrictions on the signage for the store. For instance, the awnings must remain Field’s green, Macy’s name can only appear on two of the four awnings, and said name must use a regular apostrophe instead of a star (which Macy’s tends to do.) That is some restriction.

While I don’t pretend to think that Lake Forest did this out of contempt for Macy’s – they definitely have an image to keep up – it satisfies me to think of the hurdles Macy’s has to go through. As I’ve expounded elsewhere, Field’s was one of those Chicago traditions. Never mind that it wasn’t owned by a Chicago company in its last, say, 10-20 years; those owners didn’t truly upset the apple cart. Field’s meant Chicago. Marshall Field started his company here, and visiting the Great Tree in the Walnut Room became a Christmas tradition for millions of people.

And I still can’t imagine going to the Macy’s on State Street. Screw ’em.

Posted in Consumer Commentary

Dave Walls August 30, 2006, 4:16 pm

Macy’s has been buying the old Strawbridge’s in the Philadelphia area, in malls/locations where there isn’t already a Macy’s.

It sounds like Strawbridge’s was to Philadelphia what Field’s was to Chicago. Needless to say, it’s been very awkward walking to the mall, still seeing the Strawbridge sign, and seeing Macy’s signs inside.

One question: How the hell does Macy’s stay in business? For that matter, huge department stores? Sears does it buy promoting the hell out of their own Kenmore line and making some damn good tools (Craftsman). Macy’s, with the exception of New York City, is always empty when I go walk around it. The same 80’s style cash registers (which probably converted to the year 1970 when Y2K hit), overpriced goods…I just don’t see it.

Paul August 30, 2006, 5:34 pm

“One question: How the hell does Macy’s stay in business? For that matter, huge department stores?”

They’re all pretty much on the ropes: Target and Wal-Mart are eating at the low-end, and national boutiques are eating at the high end. That’s part of the reason Federated bought May (its chief rival), and is now consolidating all of its stores into just two names: it’s cheaper that way.

It’s really too bad, because the shopping experience at someplace like Field’s is really different – more majestic and from a bygone era. Too bad they’re all chucking that in favor of stuff like iPod vending machines.

Terry M. August 31, 2006, 12:19 am

I like department stores for buying clothes. I love the aura: walking by the perfume department, being in the company of beautiful people. Boutiques are far too high end and pretentious for me to set foot in .. and I would never buy clothes from Target. If you need a nice new shirt, where else to go but a decent department store. Just so there’s no misunderstanding: most of my clothes are at least a few years old and have holes. But it’s all name brand dammit!!

ashleigh March 12, 2008, 3:51 pm

Haha, maybe you should buy clothes at Target. I think designer target clothes are better then department store “brand name” if they have holes. haha. That’s just great. You keep in pretending….

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