Saturday, October 07, 2006

No Way to Shop!

Every time I walk past Filene’s, I get a bit depressed. It’s been semi-closed for months now, part of Macy’s strategy to buy up every regional brand and wipe it out. Only the first floor is open, selling close-outs or whatever it is Macy’s is trying to unload this week.

When it first started its shutdown (which was some type of squeeze play that emptied out one floor at a time), I walked through with tears in my eyes. My sister Kathleen had the same experience.

There’s something really lost when the local stores go, especially for those of us who grew up with them. (When Macy’s took over Jordan Marsh a couple of years ago, and got rid of its name, I didn’t feel quite as bad. I suspect that’s because I grew up in Worcester, which had a Filene’s but no Jordan’s. The fact that everyone still calls the Macy’s Jordan’s helps, too.) Still, I’ve been in Boston long enough to be a Bostonian, and most of the stores that were here when I arrived are long gone: Gilchrist’s, R.H. Stearns, S.S. Pierce, Lechmere Sales, Raymond’s.

All more of the same: the world getting homogenized and blah’d out.

As someone who’s half-Chicago, I also feel aggrieved at the loss of the Marshall Fields name. A big treat on our Chicago visits was a trip downtown to Marshall Fields mother-store in the Loop, where we’d buy a box of Michigan Mints. And it’s not just the states. Although I think the only thing I ever bought there was a travel clock that ticked too loudly, I felt bad when Moon’s department store in Galway was taken over by the big Dublin store, Brown Thomas.

Big fish eat little fish. Hyenas grab the limping gazelles. Business is business. Business is hell.

I actually like living in a world where there are some differences between places. That’s why they’re called different, isn’t it? I like hearing regional accents, window shopping new stores, watching the news on someone else’s local TV. Does everything really have to be the same?

Why can’t Macy’s just use their über brand, and keep the local name going? Filene’s: A Macy’s Store. Marshall Fields: A Macy’s Store. Come on, how much more would it cost to plunk in the old name and logo on the bags, in the ads?

It will be interesting to see if Macy’s strategy works out, if people forgive and forget or just take their Filene’s and Marshall Fields spending habits and years of built up brand loyalty and go elsewhere.

Filene’s is Now Macy’s. Marshall Fields is Now Macy’s. Well, no they’re not.

Jury’s out on whether Macy’s will live up to it’s tagline and become the Way to Shop! for Bostonians and Chicagoans.

1 comment:

John Whiteside said...

The sheer scope of the rebranding is kind of amazing - it's a lot of names. Here in Texas it's Foley's that bit the dust (in name, anyway).