If We Wanted Macy’s, We’d Live in New York

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.

Roger Ebert has something to say on this as well.

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.

There’s a very good article about this on the blog Architecture Chicago Plus and another take on it by the same author over at Newsday.

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1 Response

  1. I feel your pain.
    Here in Virginia we lost all department store uniqueness when Miller & Rhoads and Thalhimers went away forever.
    We have now had several very unsuccessful incarnations since then. First there was Hess then Proffits and now Hecht’s which will become (surprise, surprise) Macy’s at the begining of the year.
    Macy’s is not our tradition either and quite frankly I’m sick of department stores myself.

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