You will recall that last year, Federated Department Stores, now Macy’s, changed the name of Marshall Field’s to Macy’s. Now that flagship State Street store is well on it’s way to failing. It wouldn’t surprise me if someone was trying to buy it from them right now to start it anew. When history examines this, it will see lessons of branding and hospitality.
According to the Chicago Tribune, a press conference after its (Macy’s) annual meeting here Friday, Federated’s chief financial officer, Karen Hoguet, said former Field’s stores are performing no worse or better than the roughly 400 regional department stores Federated acquired from St. Louis-based May Department Stores Co. in 2005 and converted to Macy’s. But there is an exception: the Chicago store on State Street. The landmark store, long a tourist destination, is “doing badly,” Hoguet said, without providing specific performance data.
After listening to Danny Meyer yesterday (see post below) I can’t help but noticing this wasn’t about a store, it was about hospitality, word of mouth and networking and the way people felt during that customer experience. A recent post on Marshall Field’s – fieldsfanschicago.org message board (which is amazingly still getting strong traffic – you may recall I stated I thought this issue had blogsphere legs back in September) says it best:
“I miss shopping in Marshall Field’s because Field’s IS Chicago. For me shopping at Field’s was an adventure because Field’s was more than a store…it was an institution which made people feel special just being there amongst the special merchandise that only Field’s could offer and the sales people made even the transactions memorable because of the way they wrapped items, hard and soft, in white tissue paper sealed with a green MF sticker before generously pulling out a large MF forest green shopping bag in which to place my purchases. That was ‘the frosting on the cake’.”
“But you know what I r-e-a-l-l-y notice at commuter train stations, on North Michigan Avenue, on State Street and in the Chicagoland shopping centers, at O’Hare and Midway and at other airports around the country???? I miss seeing people, by the dozens and dozens carrying the distinctive green Marshall Field’s sturdy shopping bags with the handles! The absence is so barrenly striking. You readily KNEW they were either FROM Chicago or had a fun shopping trip as a tourist and were going back home. You just do not find people carrying macy’s plastic sacks anywhere it seems, she added. Why should they?! Macy’s is everywhere, and therefore not special at all. It is all so sad.”
Another reader posted in reply to the many clearance items at the store now…
“Customers want the stores converted back to Marshall Field’s not Marshalls.”
In a related matter, Macy’s has new problems due to accusations of a former LA Times reporter.