Saturday, September 09, 2006
Marshall Field's gone -- I hope your Federated stock is gone, too
Today Marshall Field’s has become Macy’s. Boo. Hiss.
Marshall Field’s State Street store was a tourist destination – it was special. It was distinctively Chicago. I used to direct lost visitors to Field’s all the time. But I don’t think people from Omaha or Dubuque are going to go out of their way to visit “Macy’s on State” – Federated’s new name for Field’s flagship store - particularly if there's already a Macy's in their local mall. If Federated were to buy Harrod’s of London, would it change the name of that store to “Macy’s on Brompton Road?” Would people from New York still fly over to shop “Macy’s on Brompton Road” on weekends? Why?
Clearly, Federated is within it’s rights to call the stores that it owns anything it wants. But, in a spirit of cooperation and reconciliation, I offer a couple of alternatives. How about “Bankrupt’s?” “Chapter 7” might be a catchy name for the young people. Vague, hip... and accurate. In a couple of years, I’m guessing.
But before we forget Field’s entirely, I want to share one of my favorite Field’s stories.
My wife expected me to pick up her makeup stuff because I worked in River North, an easy lunchtime walk from the Field’s at Water Tower. I resisted this assignment for as long as possible – but eventually I ran out of excuses.
I was terribly unsure of how to make this purchase, but I wrote out my instructions and walked tentatively into the store. I eventually figured out that the Clinique products I was supposed to get could not be had at the Revlon counter. And there were so many other counters besides.
I eventually was directed to the Clinique counter and a woman wearing what appeared to be a lab coat came over to wait on me. I recited my list and she started pulling the various products. But as she took my charge card, she leaned over, and, in a conspiratorial whisper, said, “You know, sir, there is another Clinique counter on the Mezzanine. It might be more... discreet.”
The light bulb went on: She thought this stuff was for me! I could think of nothing else to do at that time but to mumble thanks. But the next time I went in, I made sure to gargle with testosterone first. I made sure thereafter to always scratch and spit and speak in a baritone growl.
Besides, my wife’s complexion is much darker than mine. The makeup would have looked awful on me.