This isn't new for Macy's - the idea of just taking regional stores and turning them into Macy's stores. Two of the larger stores that Macy's absorbed into itself besides Marshall Field's were Jordan Marsh and Filene's, both of New England. I know a lot of people in the Boston area that are still more than a little steamed about the loss of these stores. Macy's is like the Borg of Star Trek lore - the great assimilators - and the villain (from the point of view of any non-Borg).
Frankly, the only way I see myself ever walking into a former Marshall Field's store again is for the know-it-alls at Macy's Inc. to bring back not only the name “Marshall Field's” to these stores, but to bring back the product lines that Marshall Field's carried as well. I'm all for change and for re-invention, but the idea of taking a Marshall Field's store and turning it into a Macy's is a GIGANTIC step in the wrong direction.
Here's the quote from the article that just made me ill:
“Now, instead of convincing shoppers that Macy's isn't all that different from the more upmarket Field's, the company is embracing the difference as a way to attract new customers.
“The focus of this building was on the Marshall Field's customer,“ Guzzetta said during an interview as he walked through the State Street store. “There are a lot of people who never shopped in Field's. There was a vision of what Marshall Field's was and they felt it wasn't the store for them.“
Is this guy totally joking? Living in Chicago for the first 28 years of my life, I did not know anybody who didn't shop at Marshall Field's for one thing or another. Seriously. I wasn't rich and neither were my friends. Marshall Field's wasn't like Neiman Marcus or even like Bloomingdale's. It was the store where every couple kept their bridal registry and where you could be close to assured to find a present for everyone on your gift lists. My family and I shopped at that store for as long as I've been alive. My christening dress came from Marshall Field's. My prom dresses came from Marshall Field's. My sister bought her couture wedding gown there at the State Street store and would go to the Walnut Room to eat after every fitting. Countless things were purchased there including the furniture for my loft in Lakeview. The same goes for lots of other folks I know.
Mr. Guzzetta seems to be saying that he wants the old Marshall Field's to attract new customers - the ones who never shopped at Marshall Field's previously. Well, yeah - the old customers of Marshall Field's are very aware of the ridiculous step down in merchandising, quality and service since the transition to Macy's. He's going to have to find some new customers to buy his crap. Most friends of mine in Chicago have moved on to Nordstrom as their preferred store. Only problem is that Nordstrom doesn't carry things like housewares and furniture - but there are other stores for that as well.
The folks at Macy's Inc. didn't take into consideration the fact that there was a lot of value in the green Marshall Field's box. I've lived in the Boston area for a decade and I avoided shopping at Macy's even before I had this beef with them. I used to wait until I flew to Chicago to do my shopping at Marshall Field's and Nordstrom. It's just not a good experience to shop at Macy's. (Thank goodness a Nordstrom finally appeared in Massachusetts!) Marshall Field's was a different story. When you gave somebody a present and it came in a green Marshall Field's box (or the old white ones with the gold scroll logo) it “said” something to that person. It said that you cared and that you went to a great store to find them something. There was something intrinsic to the Marshall Field's name and it counted for a lot with its loyal customers. Macy's? Definitely not the same perception. Definitely not the same store. Definitely not where any of my dollars are going this holiday season or any ordinary day in the foreseeable future.
Addendum: There is a group called fieldsfanschicago.org that is working to get Marshall Field's back in Chicago. They have been holding rallys and trying hard to get Macy's to listen. Check it out. Also, check out the NPR piece that also ran over the weekend (thanks _ITGuy)