Sorry, I’m a bit late posting about this but I’ve been very busy, preoccupied, and otherwise engaged. So, better late than never.
Most of you heard by now that Marshall Field’s parent company, Federated, will change the name of Chicago’s own department store to Macy’s in 2006. While I’m not a native Chicagoan, I still feel a loyalty to Marshall Field’s and agree with just about everyone I know in Chicago that changing the name is a colossally stupid move. I didn’t grow up with an annual trip to the Christmas windows or tea in the Walnut Room with Grandma and to be truthful, I can’t really get too passionate about a department store. But Marshall Field’s isn’t just a department store, it’s a piece of Chicago history and it’s soon to be one less thing that’s unique to Chicago.
Changing Marshall Field’s name to Macy’s is one more step toward making Chicago like every other big city. Federated feels no loyalty toward the brand, its history, Chicago, or the people who shop there. It all comes down to the almighty dollar. More bang for their advertising buck. Personally, all the advertising in the world won’t get me to shop at Macy’s. In the future, when I need to shop at a department store, I’ll walk the extra block or two to Nordstrom. Federated feels no loyalty to Marshall Field’s, I feel no loyalty to Macy’s.
My fear now is that it may be only a matter of time before Federated decides the building and the land it sits on are worth more than the department store itself. I hope preservationists move quickly to make the building an historic landmark. Even if next year it’s not technically a Marshall Field’s, the building, with its distinctive first floor interior, atrium, and Tiffany dome, not to mention the brass plaque that says Marshall Field’s on the exterior and the world-renowned green clocks, should be preserved. At the rate new construction is flourishing downtown, I wouldn’t put it past Federated to boil the Field’s brand down to real estate, and that would be the ultimate slap in the face.