Macy’s Markets “Tombstones” of Great Stores it Destroyed

Today a reader provided us with an interesting and slightly disturbing link to the new ‘Macy’s Brand’ shopping bags being marketed on their website. These are plastic versions of shopping bags from now-closed American department stores, all of which have since been converted to Macy’s nameplates and/or closed by Macy’s. The one that pulled at our heartstrings was the bag by Marshall Field’s, Chicago’s once great super-retailer. 

Former Marshall Field’s store in Chicago, now ‘Macy’s State Street’

Marshall Field’s was a Chicago institution. It had excellent customer service and interesting, upscale products, all located in beautifully interesting retail settings. Its enormous State Street Flagship store was a Chicago institution. In 2006, After Macy’s converted all Marshall Field’s stores to Macy’s nameplates, various upscale labels jumped ship. Macy’s-exiting-labels included Prada, Miu Miu, Jimmy Choo, Dolce & Gabbana (clothing/accessories for women and men), Steuben, and others. Macy’s has continued to try to market its State Street store in an upscale way, to the dismay of many previous Field’s shoppers. This was even met with a resistance website, which can be viewed here:

We don’t want to rant at length, but Macy’s obliterated much of the remaining varied department store chains in America. These included I. Magnin, Bullock’s, Meier & Frank, The Bon Marche, Lazarus, Filene’s, Jordan Marsh, Kaufmann’s, Hecht’s, Goldsmith’s, Robinson’s-May, Burdines, Rich’s, Foley’s, Hecht’s, Wanamaker, and others. And now you can buy their ‘shopping bags’ at Macy’s. Talk about reviving past trauma.

Don’t get us wrong, we applaud efforts Macy’s is making to be ‘America’s Department Store’. We just find it a shame that Macy’s felt it prudent to eliminate centuries of good will and customer loyalty for a Manhattan-based, mid-market department store. Various successful, profitable single-stores and small department store chains operate throughout the world (think Harrod’s in London, KaDeWe in Berlin, Oberpollinger in Munich, le Bon Marche in Paris, among others) and we think Macy’s could have left at least an I. Magin store in San Francisco, a Wanamaker in Philadelphia, or a Marshall Field’s in Chicago. Product-purchasing economies of scale can be met while a chain uses multiple nameplates, for example.

It’s still tempting to buy a $40 Field’s shopping bag for old-time sake. Partly to evoke memories of a store that once had decent customer service and a breadth of upscale product offerings.

By the way, this blog is awesome. It’s called ‘The Department Store Museum’, and it provides a wonderfully comprehensive database of store guides, photos, and descriptions and now defunct (and some still-operating) North American department stores: We’ve literally spent hours reading store descriptions and wonderful viewer comments (some of which are our own).

Macy’s website:

Marshall Field’s memorial website:

Department Store Museum website:

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