Former Marshall Field's Customers Take To The Chicago Streets To Protest Macy's

Chicagoans don’t like change. (Take Wrigley Field, for example, in all its jumbotron-less glory.) Yes, they are a strange, stubborn people who do not eat ketchup on hot dogs and who put the sauce on top of their pizza. And they don’t like Macy’s. Why? Because Macy’s did away with Marshall Field’s.

From the Chicago Tribune:

One year after Marshall Field’s became Macy’s, more than 200 “Field’s Fans” stood under the store’s clock on State Street for a moment of silence Sunday, hoping their passion might resurrect a name for the sake of Chicago pride and childhood memories.

The change in corporate ownership aside, these people missed their Marshall Field’s Frango mints, their Walnut Room lunches, the charm of following a Christmas story from one decorated window to another. All of those things remain, in some version, but the people who gathered said it is simply not the same.

“You don’t give up on something that you like,” said Rosario Probo of Pilsen. “Just the [name] itself — you say Marshall Field’s, people know where you’re at. Everybody knows Marshall Field’s is Chicago.”

Macy’s former Marshall Field’s stores (particularly in Chicago) continue to languish under the new Macy’s brand. The costs involved in converting Marshall Field’s and other local department stores are often cited as the reason Macy’s continues to under-perform. From Bloomberg:

The company is paying a price for alienating Chicago customers, even though second-quarter profit exceeded analyst estimates. Chief Financial Officer Karen Hoguet acknowledged May 18 that sales at the State Street store were “doing badly, but we feel we can turn around the performance.”

Shares of Cincinnati-based Macy’s have fallen 26 percent since it dropped the Marshall Field’s name, from $40.41 last Sept. 11 to $29.76 at the close of New York Stock Exchange composite trading on Sept. 9.
“It’s a very unorthodox and major mistake to give the Marshall Field’s name the death penalty in Chicago,” said Burt Flickinger, managing director of New York-based consulting firm Strategic Resource Group.

Despite the protest and the lagging stock, Macy’s says it will not consider reviving Marshall Field’s:

“The decision is 100 percent decided,” said McNamara, whose chain is second only to Sears Holdings Corp. in the U.S. based on annual sales. “It was made well over a year ago and we believe it was the right decision to make for our company.”

“We researched 40,000 of our customers.” McNamara said. “They don’t want to be stuck in the past.”

Meanwhile, the Chicago Tribune reports that protesters were happy about Macy’s poor sales and were hoping someone would buy them out and bring Field’s back.

Though many said they had never participated in a protest, they thought they might actually have an impact because Macy’s sales have been down, especially in Chicago.

“We have more hope now than we did a year ago,” said Marianne Nathan as she pulled a green-clad mannequin on a rolling cart. Nathan, 58, of Oak Park reasoned that Macy’s won’t likely change the name but perhaps the company would be bought out and the Marshall Field’s name restored.

Darrid Morris of Columbus, Ohio, said he’s shopped from coast to coast but has never found a store with the level of service and quality of Marshall Field’s. He’s dedicated a Web site, Darrid.com, to his love for the store.

“It’s standing up for what you believe in,” said Morris. “I believe a Chicago icon should remain a Chicago icon.”

Ahh, Chicago. We love you.

A year later, Field’s enthusiasts still fighting for name [Chicago Tribune]
Macy’s Finds Chicago Indignant on Marshall Field’s (Update1) [Bloomberg]
(Photo:Chuck Berman/Chicago Tribune)