Website of the week
Just to warn you, this post is going to be a sentimental one. So, this morning Federated Department Stores, owner of Macy's and Bloomingdale's, announced that, as part of its acquisition of May Department Stores, they're turning everything but Lord & Taylor into a Macy's, giving them a ridiculous 950 stores nationwide, in every major market (except, I think, Jacksonville, Florida). May owned a lot of ho-hum department stores--Kaufmann's, May, Robinson's--but also St. Louis' Famous Barr, Boston's Filene's, and the Midwest's Marshall Field's. It was widely assumed that Federated would turn all the May Co. stores into either a Bloomingdale's or a Macy's; the surprising Lord & Taylor announcement came last week, and until late yesterday, the fate of Marshall Field's was in question. Personally, I was rooting for Field's.

Being a native Chicagoan, Marshall Field's holds a special place in my heart. It was always my and my mom's first stop at the mall, and I have fond memories of weekly lunches at Greener Fields, the restaurant at the Oakbrook Mall Field's, which I'd attend with my mom and my grandmother. We always had the same waitress, a lovely British woman named Terri, who must be 80 by now but who, at last count, still waitresses at the Field's restaurant, which is now located in the basement. Because I was a picky eater, I'd always get a fruit plate with a side of bacon, and Terri never gave me any trouble about it. Every year at Christmas, I'd get a Mistletoe bear and a mug, a vast collection of which still resides in my parents' kitchen cabinet. My first Swatch watch, my first pair of designer jeans (Guess, of course), and my first non-training bra (Calvin Klein) were all purchased at Field's.

The store went through a rough patch, being bought by Dayton-Hudson, which became the Target corporation, then sold their entire department store arm to May Co. But instead of sinking into mediocrity, Field's stepped it up with top-notch merchandise--the famed 28 Shop carries Gaultier, YSL, and Armani, among others. Elsewhere in the store, you can find Prada, Marc Jacobs, Juicy Couture, Thomas Pink, and Citizens of Humanity. It's no Neiman Marcus, but Field's is certainly more on par with Nordstrom and Bloomingdale's than it is with Macy's. Furthermore, the landmark State Street store in downtown Chicago carries a ton of tradition: The building itself is gorgeous--it has a Tiffany mosaic ceiling--and was built in 1852. The State Street clock is a landmark and adorns everything from mugs to Frango boxes. Every year at Christmas, thousands of families line up to have lunch in the Walnut Room, which houses the several-stories-tall Great Tree. And back in the day, the store's famed Frango mints were made in the basement. It's likely because of this rich history and tradition that the Chicago Landmarks Commission recently awarded the store Landmark status. (More on that to come.)

So, I'm in a bit of a weird place, given my love for Field's and my current day job, as a copywriter for Macy's, which--aha!--is owned by Federated. Having such a strong national presence will certainly be good for business for both Macy's and, but Chicagoans have already made it clear that they're not going to welcome Macy's with open arms. There's also the mediocrity factor--as I noted before, Field's is more on par with Nordstrom and Bloomingdale's, and while I do take pride in the company I work for, I'm not quite sure that the Field's customer is going to go for the One Day Sale, $19.99 Everyday Values, and other hallmarks of the Macy's business. I understand and appreciate Macy's for what it is, but what it is not is Marshall Field's. (Want more evidence? Read these.)

Which brings us back to the Landmarks Commission. Landmark status will allow the city to legally fight Federated on everything from signage to structural changes. And let's not underestimate Mayor Daley, who, paranoid about terrorist attacks, famously tore up the runways of the Meigs Field airport overnight, to the bafflement of pretty much everyone in the city. Sorry, Federated (um, and please don't fire me), but I hope Marshall Field's fights back. And on that note, I'd like to declare website of the week. Shop now, because by Q1 2006 (that's February for you non-business people), it'll all be gone. Or not...

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