How Marshall Field’s Would Return

Give the Lady What She Wants.

Are you listening, Macy’s? You heard a protest of 200 folks, telling you that they loved your store. While it might not seem like alot to you, the reality is that if 200 people would dress up on a Sunday afternoon in odd costume and protest, there are about 2,000 other Chicagoland people who strongly sympathize.

These 200 folks have lots of family and friends, and they are telling their friends how silly Macy’s is being on this whole issue. Handing out Frango to everyone doesn’t do it. The key is using the Marshall Field’s name, in small doses or large. People want to hear the name Marshall Field, anywhere. So here are a few ideas on ways you could bring the name back.

  • Rename the Chicago store in name as Marshall Field’s, but operate it as Macy’s. Instead of calling it Macy’s at State Street, call it Macy’s at Marshall Field’s.
  • Re-introduce Marshall Field (no apostrophe “s”) as a store brand. Why in the world are you pushing other store brand names at Macy’s (Charter Club Home, Tools of the Trade, and Hotel Collection), but are not using the name Marshall Field as a store brand?
  • Re-launch a tiny niche Marshall Field’s catalog at Christmastime.
  • Quietly, oh so quietly, rename the Macy’s North division the Marshall Field Division. You don’t have to re-flag the stores, which is expensive when the whole Macy’s chain is suffering. But if you allow staff, customers and vendors to use the name in a soft-sell way business-to-business, this will preserve the rights to use this name. If Macy’s does not make a good faith effort to use the brand name, you can lose it. And that name has millions in value; a small internal move like this will add to the balance sheet.
  • Make a Marshall Field’s website that by all effect operates as a Macy’s site, but puts the Marshall Field’s name out front.
  • Pull a Conch Republic, and rename the State Street store once a year “Marshall Field’s” during the holiday season with a “Give the Lady” sale. That would be fun.
  • Offer Macy’s cardholders the opportunity to have a Marshall Field’s co-branded store charge card.
  • Make the State Street BUILDING an independent Marshall Field’s unit of Macy’s, with its own identity, while leaving all the suburban stores as Macy’s. In truth, the old department stores were really collections of smaller stores and leased concession shops, all operating under the department store name, the earliest shopping malls. So how about the store complex being a retail complex called Marshall Field’s, with Macy’s being one of the smaller shops inside. Then, the Marshall Field Store at State Street, connected with the brand trademarks and goodwill, will add to the balance sheet, yet not detract at all from the Macy’s name.

Even forgetting that there is a Marshall Field’s store name, Marshall Field was person, and his trusted name means everything to Chicagoans. So use it.

And here’s another point for Macy’s stockholders. In the second largest metropolitan region of the U.S., your name is being dragged through the mud, not only as insensitive, but as incompetent. This is not good.

No one of these above solutions is correct; the correct answer can only be determined by store officials who just swallow a wee bit of pride and make a good faith effort to harness the goodwill in Chicago for that State Street store. I promise you, it will be good for sales. And it doesn’t have to be a big mea culpa. Instead, Macy’s should take little steps in bringing the name back. Repairing this is a process, not a one-time act.

In fact, Macy’s skilled-but-beleaguered press department can use the line “Give the lady what she wants” when they announce the first of these name changes. It will signal not only that Macy’s understands the Field’s shopper, but it will show a sense of humor about the whole thing.

Editor’s Note: Want to read our most up to date mentions of Marshall Field’s? Click here on all our stories that concern Marshall Field’s.


  • Garland Pollard

    J. Garland Pollard IV is editor/publisher of BrandlandUSA. Since 2006, the website has chronicled the history and business of America’s great brands.

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  1. I have a close friend who explained to me the corporate mentality.

    Now, if Macy’s changed the store name to Marshall Field’s a lot of people would be happy. Practically no one would be unhappy but idiots.

    If they changed the name back they would make more money. You would have to be an idiot to throw away money.

    If they changed the name back, Chicago would no longer think Macy was run by idiots.

    Let’s face it. Corporations are run by self centered idiots who care about their own egos before making money. Idiots.

    1. Author

      An excellent synopsis of the problem, and the problem with so much of the leadership of the U.S.

  2. love macys..better than the old building..they are keeping it up…….i am a liftime chicogoan….61+ year.. a riverview guy……macys has been a big plus for chicago

  3. Macy’s also owns the at least somewhat upscale Bloomingdale’s, and in that perhaps there’s a solution. Break off State Street from Macy’s, call it Marshall Field but run it under Bloomingdale’s. Do that with Nicollet Mall Dayton’s in Minneapolis and other legendary names across the country, keeping the Bloomies name in the east. The operation would still have economies of scale, but they’d have much stronger brands to market in the higher-end segment and cities full of appreciative shoppers.

  4. Chicago saw the Macy takeover as a slap in the face. Macy’s never will be the go to brand in Chicago the way Marshall Field’s is/was. Definitely a blind spot on the part of the Marketing Staff and overall management at Macy’s. They lost a lot of money by that move!

  5. With the current economy staggering and barely showing signs of improvement, a return to the very high end merchandise is not a option. Fourth quarter profits and sales from the high end stores Neiman’s, Saks, Nordstrom and Macy’s own acknowledgment that Bloomingdale’s poor results along with the results that lower moderate priced merchandise is selling signify the consumer is trading down and spending on moderate essentials. Macy’s could introduce a private label of Marshall Field merchandise i.e. as they did in San Fran with the I Magnin line or they could rename the State Street Store Macy’s at Marshall Field’s as they did in Portland with Macy’s at Meier & Frank Square.

  6. So you fall in love with someone and you get married. Is the continued happy marriage over a period of many years “living in the past?” Where does the past end? Is it just minutes ago, or is it measured in years. I was a Field’s customer from 1952 until 2006. I want the return of Field’s and not merely for nostalgia’s sake.

    We had a saying on the South Side of Chicago many years ago. If you needed something you’d go to 75th Street. If you couldn’t find it there you’d go to 71st Street. Then you’d get on the IC and go to Field’s. They had everything all the time. One left with their dignity unscathed.

    Refering to State Street as “Marshall Field’s at Macy’s” is lame. When a brand carries a name such as that the sub-text is that “something’s gone wrong.” It’s a cover like “Cafe 17 at the Berghoff.”

    The only solution is that the former Field’s stores get sold off to a good shephard who will do the thing complete and correct.

  7. Hello,
    It can clearly be said that the transition from Marshall Fields, Burdines, Foley’s et al has not been the ‘sensation across the nation’ that was anticipated by Lundgren. This has really taken the bloom off his ‘retail genius’ or ‘golden boy’ status even though the New York Times published overwise. I do really wonder sometimes if they should have kept most of the names and just improved on them – what’s so difficult about having a real federation of stores. Macy’s could have moved into market’s more slowly and maybe not at all. Lundgren touted the cost efficiencies that would be gained related to advertising and shopping bags. Also just the size of the company would exact market clout. But has that really come to pass – have the poor sales and decreased market share value really been worth the cost savings that were realized from advertising and shopping bags – doubtful. An through analysis of this would be interesting and will one day come but only when Macy’s is brought down to its knees. That is not far off…..

  8. There is nothing Macy’s can do that will EVER make the Field’s Fanatics happy. They’re all living in the past and you can’t turn time backwards.

  9. Some people claim that Field’s was losing money and failing before Macy’s took over. This is a lie.

    While the entire department store sector lost ground several years ago, Field’s remained profitable and in its worst year in 2002 still earned $107 Million in profits. In the first quarter of 2003 Field’s revenues grew 6.1% and this growth trend continued in 2004, 2005 and up until the month Macy’s took over in September 2006.

    Field’s growth trend was shared by Field’s other luxury department store competitors and has continued this last year for Neimans, Saks and Nordstrom, suggesting that Field’s would have continued to thrive had Macy’s left Field’s on course.

    It’s only due to Macy’s downgrades of Field’s high-end merchandise and elimination of Field’s prestigious name – valued among the highest in the entire department store sector for good-will, brand loyalty and service – that the stores fare so poorly now.

    Marshall Field’s name represents the best of Chicago to the world and Field’s legacy lives in the many world-class museums and traditions Field’s gave to the city and continued to support over the decades. As the city’s third most popular tourist destination, Field’s on State Street attracted more than 9 million customers each year up until 2006 when Macy’s moved in. Now, Chicago, State Street and malls throughout the region suffer from a decline in customer traffic, a decline in tax receipts and a loss of thousands of jobs, salary and commission cuts at Macy’s hands.

    Marshall Field’s was one of Chicago’s most valuable assets, yet Macy’s tossed Field’s aside in order to commandeer real estate for the Macy’s brand. It’s no wonder that so many people are so angry with Macy’s and boycotting their stores!

  10. that’s all b.s. Marshall Field’s became Macy’s because Marshall Field’s didn’t make any money. Everyone wants cheap stuff for as little money as possible, so they shop at Target and Wal-Mart.

    And I be those 200 people that protested never even shopped at the store anyways

    Get over it

  11. I think there are lots of options. The key for Macy’s is that the goal of a national department store makes sense for them. Macy’s for years has been known (and loved) around the country through the parade and other promotions, as well as that famous movie.

    But that doesn’t mean that the Field name shouldn’t survive. Perhaps keeping the Field name for higher end stores is good. I don’t know the exact answer. That would have to be determined by gathering up all the facts, putting those down to an unbiased outside research team, and having them do focus groups and panels to test out all the options.

    The important thing in saving the Field name is that Macy’s needs to go back to the table and openly consider all options. When they investigate all those options, the correct one will become apparent. I know it will include a respectful way of keeping the Field name. And perhaps other regional stores that Macy’s renamed should be revived; Rich’s and Burdines among them.

    Lord & Taylor is reducing the size of its New York store and going upscale, after having been owned by Federated. That’s not an ideal situation, but markets change.

  12. Why do you keep holding on to the macy’s name? The name no longer has any cachet since Lundgren ran it into the ground. I don’t want to see “Marshall Field’s at Macy’s” Marshall Field’s can stand on it’s own without having the name macy’s attached to it. Field’s been able to hold it’s own for 155 years. It would be like Zale’s jewelers
    buying out Tffany & Co. and attaching their name to Tiffany. WHY?
    If there is 63 former Field’s stores, return Field’s to the important markets ie the more wealthier areas and keep macy’s for lower end neighborhoods.

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