Monday, March 19, 2007

Why I Hate Macy's

When my grandmother wanted to go shopping as a young woman, she would drive down to Hudson's department store in downtown Detroit, where a man in white gloves and formal attire would open her door and walk her down a carpet into the store. You can imagine how special each trip to the department store was with that kind of treatment. At one point, Detroit's Hudson's was the second largest department store in the country in terms of sales, and among it's 16 floors were Detroit's largest bookstore, drugstore and toy store. But as Detroit's economy waned, Hudson's struggled to retain it's former glory, and in 1988 it was demolished.
But Hudson's still kept other stores, mainly within upscale malls scattered around the suburbs of Detroit. While it couldn't compare to Nordstrom in terms of service and luxury, it still was a special shopping experience, even within a mall. In 2001 Hudson's was bought out by Marshall Field's and renamed, but when Federated Department Stores (which owns Macy's and a number of regional department stores) acquired the company in 2005, it was turned into a Macy's. I've been away at school since the change, but I went and visited Macy's a few weeks ago and was really disappointed by the changes they made.

I've been in Macy's before in New York (World's Largest Department Store!) and I've never understood why it's such a popular store. They stuff every inch of space with merchandise, the service is poor and the clothes tend to be overpriced and of low quality. Their in-house brands like INC are especially disappointing, and if you're looking for cheaply made trendy clothes, you're far better off going to H&M or Forever 21 and paying 1/6 of the price. At one point during my trip to Macy's I got stuck in the department that houses JLO by Jennifer Lopez and Baby Phat and I thought I'd died and gone to fashion hell, where everyone is forced to wear rhinestone-studded denim and terrycloth track suits.

Department stores have such a rich history of being these fantastic, enjoyable places for women to spend an afternoon, making it possible for one to buy everything she needs in one place, with top quality service, beautiful decor and high quality merchandise. Saks, Bergdorf's, Neiman Marcus, Barney's and Nordstrom still provide this experience, but only Nordstrom offers clothes and accessories within my price range (and I usually have to shop in the teen department). There's always a pianist, art on the walls and 3 salespeople who are more than happy to help you with anything you need. I know that it's probably not possible for a company like Macy's that's reaching a less exclusive demographic to offer the kind of shopping experience comparable to going to a Saks or Barney's, but it really depresses me that they're taking over all these wonderful regional chains and turning them into glorified J.C. Penney's (nothing against J.C. Penney).

The final reason that I hate Macy's is because they've hijacked some of my favorite shows. The Macy's product placement on Project Runway and What Not to Wear is extensive to the point of distracting from the show (and my two favorite people, Tim Gunn and Stacy London). Now I have no escape; even when I'm not shopping I'm constantly reminded of that store.

Any Macy's lovers/haters out there? Leave a comment and let me know what you think!

27 comments:

Sparky said...

I never go when they're in malls but there's one downtown on my walk to my car from work. I went in to pick up something for going out that night and I agree, everything was of low quality and way overpriced in my opinion. I saw one top for $26 that I saw a week later at a Marshall's for around $7 with the original retail price listed at $14. That's a huge difference!

ricanprincess said...

yes..yes...YES! I am glad that somebody else noticed this. I live in CT and everybody here loves them for some reason, I on the other had can't stand them, they are expensive and the clothes are yuck and INC is blah, even if you are 60 and ...and...and..., you get the point. I never go in there for those reasons. Although to be fair I did find some really good shoes there 8 years ago, which was the reason I kept going back, I guess I expected to be blessed by the shopping god's again, but no, not in MACYS...

daddylikeyblog said...

Holy hell I feel exactly the same way. No matter how many times I go in that store and it sucks and I find nothing, I always convince myself that it's going to be great if I just give it another chance (I think its original product placement in the Thanksgiving Day Parade totally warped me as a child into becoming a blindly loyal Macy's zombie), and then I give it another chance, and I find a lot of lycra/polyester for $59.99.

daddylikeyblog said...

Oh, and I completely agree that hijacking Tim Gunn, Stacy London, and Clinton Kelly is an unforgivable crime. Basically treason.

Gwen said...

As a Canadian, I only went to Macy's for the first time a couple of years ago and what a disappointment after, as you said, the product placement and branding. In those kinds of stores, you feel as if you've entered a time warp - thrown back a couple of years in fashion - and I'm convinced that if I took time to go through some mangled sale racks, I could look very designer for a fabulous price... but it's just too discouraging with the volume of crappy stuff between the good stuff.

Ali said...

Being from the UK, I went to Macy's a few years ago. Not only was it my first time in Macy's, but also my first time in a *big* US department store. Maybe I was expecting too much, but I hated it!

The shelves/stands were crowded, the service was bleh and *everything* was overpriced. I would much rather go to a much cheaper (and normally friendlier) shop, or alternatively (if I want to get a key item) be pandered to by the assistants in much pricier boutiques where I know that at least I'll be paying for quality.

Laura said...

In downtown Pittsburgh, there was (until recently) a historic Kaufmann's store. It was my go-to store for so many things, and it was where my husband & I went to update his wardrobe when he had the "hey, wait, I'm an adult now" realization.

Now it is a Macy's, and I no longer shop there if I can avoid it. They somehow managed to fill the place with items that are of worse quality and yet cost more, and they rearranged in what seems to me to be a bizarre fashion.

And forget finding anything sensible, like a spring/fall raincoat for men. Come on! All I ask is a halfway decent trench coat, Macy's! But no. The employees looked at me like I was insane for even ASKING.

Anonymous said...

As a loyal Bostonista I miss my goddamn Filenes!!!!

Emily

sparkler said...

I can't stand Macy*s. Their stores always look a mess, their product quality is poor while their prices are astronomical, and their bridal registry is RIDICULOUS (just try buying a wedding present less than two months before the event; they don't keep ANYTHING in stock).

It's disappointing that they bought out almost all the competition and turned them into inferior stores. I really liked Filene's, and those are a thing of the past now too.

Annie said...

Macy's makes me feel dirty - like, I so can't stand it that after about 15 minutes I get the itch.

In San Francisco, the ultimate travesty about Macy's is that it overtook the gloriously beautiful I.Magnin store on the corner of Stockton and Geary. The Magnins must be rolling over in their graves every time some bridge & tunneler comes in those hallowed doors, not looking for the couture department, but for the express elevator to The Cheesecake Factory.

I recently read a book about old department stores & the way they changed American shopping forever... "Service and Style" is by Jan Whitaker and is a great look back, as it is also an insightful examination of the history of American shopping habits.

gradgal said...

Macys took over Famous Barr in my area of the country and made some really positive changes, though I can't say we're privy to as many high end department stores as most areas. It's true that everything is overpriced and 85% of it I wouldn't buy with a gun to my head, but that's how Famous was too. At least Macys has good sales, I mean, seriously, as long as it's not cosmetics or high-end handbags you can get most everything you want for at least 80% off at Macys. I've gotten two pairs of in-season summer shoes there in the last few weeks for a pittance (one pair $8 marked down from $60, another $20 marked down from $100), Macys isn't a good choice for someone looking to really shop, but it can be a good place to find a bargain.

Jodi said...

I love your blog and have been lurking for a while, but decided to come out of hiding when I saw this post.

A midwest girl at heart, I've always loved Chicago - so imagine my disappointment when I moved here about a year ago only to discover the beautiful Marshall Field's store on State St. had been changed to a Macy's. I understand that for branding/image purposes they needed to change the name - but that store is a landmark in Chicago (Luckily Macy's hasn't changed some of the outer architecture on the building and the green clocks and plaques that say "Marshall Field's" are still in place). Yet, the store has lost it's magic. It's crowded with unattractive things and is much more commercial than before. And for that reason I'm largely not a Macy's fan.

I'm glad to find that I'm not the only one!

Anonymous said...

If it's any consolation (and this is strictly anecdotal), any Macy's/former Marshall Field's store I've been in in the Chicago area has seen a huge drop in business; even when I was in the iconic State Street store at Christmastime the emplyees were standing around with nothing to do. My friend was a Field's employee who stayed on for the transition says that the employees are being told that this always happens for the first year or two after the takeover, but eventually sales return to normal. After reading here what Macy's is really like in other parts of the country, I find it hard to believe they are a successful enough company to continue taking over higher class stores.

Kimberly said...

I went into Macy's last weekend for the first time in a while and I was surprised at how little they had that could be considered classic, well-made career clothing. They had trendy juniors stuff and other polyester-y looking lines, but not a lot in the way of actual work clothes. I did buy an Aigner bag at a decent price, but that was about it. I doubt I'll go there again.

Corey said...

Since Macy*s took over here for Kaufmann's in Ohio, I abhor them. The service is what gets me, I have to almost drag a clerk by her hair to the register to get checked out and forget trying to buy a purse. I was at the counter for a HALF HOUR wanting to look at a Coach I'd been eyeing up and no one would help me, giving me the endless "not my job" line.

Will not shop there again, ever.

Queendreams said...

EW MACY's! They're taking over everything. I am SO sick of that stupid star. It is a star right?

Anonymous said...

I live in the Houston area and Macy's is no Foley's. The stores are awful now and the merchandise is cheap and overpriced. I predict over half of the old Foley's will be closed within a year (along with the other former May divisions). I shopped Foley's without coupons. I disagree that Macy's problem is coupons. It is much more than that. It is a multitude of problems created by themselves. It is funny that every month that their poor sales figures come out they blame something - the weather, a change in promotions, couponing, customers needing to be re-educated due to their "confusion" over the change in merchandise. This is hysterical considering Macy's competitors have double digit increases (Nordstrom, Saks VonMaur on the high end, Penney's, Kohl's etc on the low end and Dillards in between). Dillard's associates have told me they have seen a marked increase in their business since Foley's demise. The arrogance of Terry Lundgren is appalling. Just admit you made a mistake and bring back the regional identities and traditions as well as the better merchandise. Atlantans are still not over Rich's nor are Floridians over Burdine's, Californians over Bullock's/Bullock's Wilshire, I Magnin, The Broadway, Robinsons, May and the list goes on and on. Folks across the country are sick of the cookie cutter stigma across the board. Everywhere you go are the same banks, department stores, restaurants. As I said before, Macy's downfall is their own fault. They should have been a good merchant and listened to the customer prior to abolishing all the regional nameplates and all the other changes. It is NOT ABOUT COUPONS. Bring back Foley's!!!

By the way, I found a link to an old Foley's commercial that shows how treasured the name was to the Southwest - This commercial is from the mid 80's prior to Foley's expanding into Oklahoma, New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona and Louisiana... thus their slogan then of "At the heart of Texas"
Go to Google Video (YouTube) and type in Foley's department store.

enna said...

I absolutely detest Macy's. They bought out The Bon Marche, a west coast dept store, a few years ago, and the quality has just gone downhill. I refuse to shop there anymore.

Anonymous said...

I know i've been telling my dad that macy's was really our priced and the qulity was bad. The clothes for the kids are not really brand names. they are usually macy's brands. one time i bought this polo ralph lauren shirt from there, and the font of the letters was different from the original, it didn't even have a logo. i know that ws a real fake . i have so many polo ralph lauren shirts and all of them have the logo, and never in my life had i ever seen that brand of shirt without a logo.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you and refuse to shop at Macy's. Macy's commandeered Chicago and the midwest's own unique Marshall Field's and took it downmarket. Not a good change for customers who enjoyed Field's quality and service. Also not good for Chicago, communities and shopping malls that relied on Field's as an anchor to attract tourists and customers.

I would like to make one correction to something you wrote. You say that "in 2001 Hudson's was bought out by Marshall Field's and renamed." Actually, the situation was quite the opposite.

Dayton Hudson (later known as Target Corp.) acquired Marshall Field's from BATUS in 1990. Dayton Hudson/Target chose to rename their own stores as Marshall Field's in 2001. Target Corp paid for the national expansion of the Target brand with profits generated by Marshall Field's.

Target decided to focus efforts on the now established Target brand and decided to sell Marshall Field's in 2005. Prior to being sold, Marshall Field's remained profitable and was growing in 2003, 2004 and 2005. Field's was purchased by the May Company, who outbid Federated/Macy's for the Field's chain.

8 months later, Federated/Macy's purchased the entire May Company (paying even more the Marshall Field's in this acquisition that it had bid just 6 months earlier) and replaced the Marshall Field's name in 2006.

Immediately upon changing the Marshall Field's name to Macy's, customer traffic and revenues from these converted Field's locations dropped dramatically.

Anonymous said...

Why won't any of you people complain to the manager if one of the Macy's employees made you angry? Nothing will change if the manager is not aware of the problems. If you have a problem with Macy's, then you have a right to complain to the manager. Stop complaining and do something more constructive.

LoryLory said...

I go to the Macys in the Detroit area and I actually LIKE them. I've bought at least 3 pairs of DKNY jeans for $17 or less, which I think is an awesome deal. It doesn't take hours of sifting through junk like at TJ Max or Marshalls, with Macy's you just have to know where to look. I know the Macys with the Baby Phat and J Lo you were talking about, and bought a pair of suede BCBG sligbacks there for $12. Sure Macy's can be overpriced and their service is nothing to be excited about, but if you keep up with the sales you can definately find great quality clothes for a cheaper price.

Alexander D. said...

Hey, Anonymous - go ahead and try that. You'll get an email that says "sorry, I guess. Hopefully you'll come back and it will be better the next time."

Anonymous said...

why are you criticizing Macy's, first of all you said you can't afford it. Obviously Macy's is too upscale for you, actually Macy's is a down scale department store who's competitors are Jcpenney's and Kohls. If you are going to hate Macy's at least shop at Saks, Neimans, Nordstrom, or Lord and Taylor. Obvisoluy you think Macys is a Neimans to you.

Alexander D. said...

What have you found, Anonymous, at Macy's that you like?

Anonymous said...

I dont like macys at all, its cheap and disgusting. I like Nordstrom and Saks.

Pamela said...

Macys is evil. One of the many reasons I will no longer shop there:

I got store credit for a $15 Xmas gift. I used it towards a purchase of a few items totalling over $100. I returned one $30 item and they gave me store credit for part of the return! Ridiculous! I've never had any other store do that before.

If you also have their credit card, notice carefully when you log online to pay your bill that they charge an extra $1 each month you have a balance -- you need to manually enter the amount that you actually owe to avoid paying more than you owe. When I called to ask what the extra $1 was for, they had to transfer me since the first person didn't know. They said it was "just in case" I didn't pay my bill in full that month and that I didn't have to pay the extra $1 yet. Mind you, this is several weeks before the bill is even due. Damn straight I was not paying the extra money!

Either they didn't pony up for better IT software and/or they are doing these unscrupulous practices on purpose. I think it is both and refuse to ever shop there again.