The idea for this post happened on Monday. I was downtown with my cousin, we decided to go to blarf Macy’s because she wanted to check out the shoes. I am as you all know a Chicago girl with a little bit of Detroit pride in me. I don’t do Macy’s. Since it became Macy’s I have not bought one thing from them. I am not against the department store at all. In fact I truly like them, or I should say liked them. Macy’s is NOT Marshall Field’s nor will it ever be Marshall Field’s. There is no department store like Marshall Field’s anymore. That is depressing.
The view of Marshall Field’s jewelry department. The department store like most things that has died in American culture was a thing of beauty. The sale’s people were knowledgeable and friendly. They were dressed nicely, clean, and just in general put together. There was no attitude. They were there to help you.
One of the many things that was awesome about Marshall Field’s was the wide variety. No department store has it the way Field’s did. You could by I.N.C which was their lower brand or you could find Yves Saint Laurent and either one that you wanted the sale’s person was nice to you high end low end. I bought my prize pair of Yves Saint Laurent heels from Marshall Field’s eight years ago. I spent a lot of time at the Field’s on State street. I had close to three hours between classes on Monday’s during college. So I would wander down to Field’s and browse. I had seen the Yves Saint Laurent heels in magazines and they were beautiful. Black velvet strappy sandals with a clear lucite heel with rhinestones and glitter confetti in the 3 inch heel. Drool worthy. Field’s had them. Macy’s does not carry YSL. It just so happened that I wandered into the shoe department and they had a sale! A BIG sale! 50% off kind of sale. On shoe’s like YSL, Pucci, Gucci, Dior, all the designers I loved and again Macy’s would never carry let alone put on sale. These heels were a work of art but still at 50% off not reeeeaaaallly in my budget. What the heck though I had two hours still between class it wouldn’t hurt any body to try them on? Maybe they wouldn’t even have my size. I politely went up to the sale’s man and asked for my size, he smiled, nodded, guided me to a dark velvet cushy seat, and told me he’d be back in a jiffy. He came back with my shoes. He helped me try them on. They fit! They were stunning. I handed him my credit card with the biggest grin on my face. I don’t think I had ever been so happy with a purchase in my life. What made it even better was the experience. Marshall Field’s was clean, organized, smelled good, and just had a general air of sophistication to it. I never felt like I shouldn’t be shopping there (a la Julia Roberts Pretty Woman or when I walk into Neiman Marcus) and I never felt like I didn’t want to be in there (a la Macy’s Monday) I still have those heels and they get worn about twice a year, my birthday, and new years eve. They are that special to me.
Those are my heels but mine are black and minus the cherries. I know, I know, why didn’t I get those exact ones? Because they cost $300 more on sale! And I’d already maxed out my credit card with the others, that were probably close to what some people would pay for rent in this city. But a friend of mine was very lucky to get that exact pair from her husband for Christmas.
A view of the Marshall Field’s kids department. Again awesomeness. Now what about Macy’s spurred this entry? Shoe shopping during their sale. It was absolutely disgusting. There were shoes everywhere! I mean everywhere. On the sale racks it was complete and total chaos. If you wanted to find your size good luck, it’d be like finding a needle in a haystack only the hay is spread all over the department store. The brands? Boring. The nicest was Coach and can’t you find that in every middle grade department store? The displays were left over from the 80s who uses blond wood anymore? The chairs were a pale fabric with stains all over them. Not to mention finding an empty chair to sit in was piece of work because guess what? There were shoe boxes on most of them! Behind the check out counter, shoes half out of the box piled to the ceiling, sprawling every where. The cabinet doors hanging crooked, half off hinges, and open with plastic bags spilling out onto the floor. The credit machine with scotch tape over the swipe so you had to give them your card. The cake topper with sharpie written on it “Don’t Swipe” I felt gross being in there. I felt sad. This is what had become of Marshall Field’s legacy? I wanted out as soon as possible. There is a reason that in Illinois, Chicago especially, that Macy’s has lost significant business. The old saying “If it aint broke don’t fix it” applies immensely. Plus us midwesterners are fiercely loyal to our brands.
A window for Marshall Field’s in the 1920s. In Chicago the Christmas window’s at Field’s were always a big deal. I think in general at most department stores it was like that, but I feel like Field’s was world renowned for it. I remember I was eight and spending the day with my Grandmother. We got on the train at Harlem and took the blue line downtown to go see the Christmas windows at Marshall Fields. We had lunch in the Walnut room with the giant Christmas tree. These are the kinds of memories Macy’s will never give to someone. The kind of shopping experience you can not get anymore. Marshall Field’s I miss you.
The Kids Barber Shop at Hudson’s Detroit.
Ground floor view of Hudson’s Detroit
Postcard from Marshall Field’s. The department store as you can tell from some of the pictures use to be a thing of beauty. It use to be a day trip. A day of excitement. An adventure! It wasn’t Target or Walmart. That’s what it’s become. The displays are boring, not creative, the best one’s I’ve seen are at the Bloomingdale’s at Old Orchard. That’s because a friend of mine is in charge of the merchandising and she’s an amazing artist. That’s what a department store use to be! Hiring creative people that made each window, each display, and each store a work of art. The state of Macy’s would be unacceptable to the department stores of past. It should be unacceptable today.
The Toy Department at Hudson’s. I think if department store heads feel lost or out dated or like failures they should. They want people to shop department stores again as opposed to online. They need to keep the prices good and mainly bring back the experience. The experience of being treated well, the wonder, the cleanliness, just the experience. They should make you want to spend the day in there, eat lunch, and I don’t mean at a food court. I’ve talked to a few people about this and they agree with me. That was the point of the department store. It was luxury but the beauty of Field’s was that it was both luxury and a deal. People shop on line because of the deal but a lot of people do it because they don’t want to deal with the grossness that has become the department store. People might say that the economy has an effect on it but hey the more people working the more money there is to go in to economy. So Macy’s hire some one extra or put some part timers on full time, suck it up give them benefits. Then you’ll have a clean store and more customers!
So again this blog was spurred by a trip to Macy’s and a general nostalgia for Marshall Field’s. Maybe some one whose got some power in these stores will read this and take note. Make changes! There is still a market for a department store. Look at Selfridge’s in London. Still open and is basically Marshall Field’s it was opened by a friend of the original Marshall Field’s from Wisconsin. It is my favorite existing department store and it’s a shame I can’t get there more often, because it’s definitely the kind of place I like to spend the day. When I do, I spend good money, and leave happy. Very happy.
So as usual thanks for reading! Sorry I write how I talk. And check out our etsy store.
Also check out the treasury I did in honor of Marshall Field’s and Company