Field's green fades to red
Field's green fades to red
Nostalgic shoppers snatch almost anything with the famed name and logo from shelves, trying to stop time and buy some memories
By Sandra Jones
Copyright © 2006, Chicago Tribune
Published September 9, 2006
Tote bags, mugs, key chains, tumblers, trays, coasters and the collectible clock. Just about anything with the Marshall Field's name was selling fast on Friday.
In its last hours as a Marshall Field's, nostalgic Chicagoans poured into the store's Vintage shop at the State Street flagship, purchasing all manner of Field's souvenirs in hopes of holding on to a piece of the 154-year-old emporium that for generations embodied Chicago.
After surviving the Chicago Fire, the Great Depression, the Great Chicago Flood and five separate owners, Marshall Field's disappears Saturday from the Chicago landscape and officially becomes Macy's.
It's a makeover that Macy's owner says must happen in order to revive the department store as a shopping destination. But it's one that many Chicagoans have lamented, characterizing the New York store's takeover of a Chicago landmark as an affront to Chicago's identity.
Laurie McGovern, who works in the Loop, stopped into the store for what she expects to be the last time in order to buy a $50 Field's collectible clock, the most popular item on the floor, according to Field's officials. McGovern had already given a clock to her retired aunt, a former Field's employee, as a memento. On Friday, she decided she needed one for herself as well.
"I have a lot of great memories here with my grandmother and my mother and my aunt," said McGovern, who said she wouldn't shop at the store once it changes over to Macy's. "I've always shopped at Field's. I want a little piece of the memories I've had here."
The seventh-floor Field's souvenir outpost was packed with shoppers all day, keeping sales associates busy restocking merchandise. One sales associate, who asked not be named, said he had never seen so much elbowing and shoving among shoppers worried there were no more souvenirs to be had.
But there were. And they kept coming. Several sales associates said the Field's clocks and the tote bags were moving as fast as they could get them on the floor.
By the end of the day, most of the stock, including tote bags with the store's signature saying "give the lady what she wants," was gone.
The Frango mint department was swarmed as well, as shoppers stocked up on Frango boxes that sported the Marshall Field's name.
Macy's will continue to make Frangos, but will no longer put the Marshall Field's name on the boxes. The existing stock of Frangos with the Field's name is expected to last at least another few weeks, said Macy's spokeswoman Jennifer McNamara.
Mother and daughter Ruth and Barb Wendel have been shopping at the State Street store for several years and came downtown from the Western suburbs Friday just to experience Field's one last time. With most of the Field's merchandise gone, the women bought three boxes of Frangos. They plan to use the containers as jewelry boxes.
"I am very sad," said Barb, the daughter. "I came here every Christmas to the Walnut Room. Each year my father would bring each of us down to the Walnut Room and the toy department and each of us got to pick out a toy."
Megan McKeon, a native Chicagoan whose arms were filled with Field's coasters, key chains and other merchandise, was taking photos of the changes with her cell phone and sending the photos to her mother in Schaumburg.
"It's kind of sad, but it's not going to make me stop shopping here," she said.
The souvenir shop at State Street will remain after the conversion. Similar Field's memorabilia is available at other former Field's stores including those in Oak Brook, Lake Forest and at Water Tower Place in Chicago.
More than 400 regional department stores nationwide will officially become Macy's, expanding the New York chain to more than 800 stores nationwide. Besides the Field's names, other longtime regional brands will also be mothballed, including Boston's Filene's, Houston's Foley's and Los Angeles' Robinson-May.
The decision by Macy's owner Federated Department Stores, which acquired Field's and several other regional stores through its acquisition of May Cos., comes as people have left behind traditional department stores for Target, Kohl's and J.C. Penney, among others.
Now unified under one brand, Federated hopes that Macy's will have the marketing and buying power to compete more effectively on price as well as merchandise.
"We look at this as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," Federated Chairman Terry Lundgren told investors Wednesday at the Goldman Sachs Global Retailing Conference in New York. "We intend to bring affordable luxury and fashion to America with this launch."
Macy's, which had eyed State Street before taking over Field's, plans to host a series of events on Saturday, literally rolling out the red carpet at State Street and bringing the Macy's parade to Woodfield Shopping Center in Schaumburg.
The retailer is handing out gift cards to the first 500 shoppers to arrive at all the Macy's stores starting at 9 a.m. All but one of the cards given away at each store will be valued at $10. One card at each store will be worth $1,000.