Macy’s = Marvelous. I’ve never been a big fan …

Macy’s = Marvelous.

I’ve never been a big fan of Macy’s. Growing up in Western New York, Macy’s always seemed to me like a New York City store — a bit showy, sort of brash — nothing like the fine, genteel department stores like A,M&A’s, Hengerer’s, or Sibley’s that we had upstate. Macy’s, in my world, was good for one thing, the Thanksgiving Day parade, and that was about it.

When I moved to Boston for a short time in the late 90s, I was suprised to find a Macy’s at every major shopping mall in New England. What surprised me more was the decent selection of merchandise, and the clean, well organized stores. Not a store that I’d necessarilly seek out, but not one that I’d summarilly dismiss either.

Then the announcement was made. Macy’s purchased May — the keeper of historic regional names like Robinson’s, Famous-Barr, Hecht’s, Filenes, Marshall Field’s, and in my hometown, the successor to Hengerer’s and Sibley’s: Kaufmann’s. People across the country were outraged. What would be the fate of the Filene’s historic store, home of the famous Filene’s Basement (which, incidentally, is owned by a completely different company) in Boston’s dowtown crossing? What would become of Marshall Field’s famous cookie? To add insult in inury, Macy’s announced that all May stores would become Macy’s by the end of 2006. Well, I thought, how dare they (read: pushy and brash New Yorkers) make the swift decision to ax names that the country has known for more than a century?

Well, I was wrong. Big deal, a bunch of washed up old department stores are losing their names. We’ll remember them fondly — and far more romantically than the stores ever actually were. Yesterday, I popped in to Kaufmann’s cum Macy’s — and guess what? It looked good. Damn good. The store was bright, and clean. Merchandise was carefully chosen, and well displayed. I could walk between racks. Even the sale merchandise was organized and well signed. More importantly, the employees were helpful, and polite. Most seemed genuinely interested in helping (odd, considering that not too long ago, they were exploited and exhausted May company employees.)

Kudos to Macy’s for having the vision and chutzpah to get the job done. I wish them the best of luck, and anxiously await the new chapter of what is to come.

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