The Trouble With Macy’s

by Kara Nesvig

If this is a day ending in “y” I have probably been shopping. If you guessed that I have been shopping today, you’re right. Yes, folks, today was payday and mine usually ends up doing its part to reinflate the economy. It’s a political service. Back when I was a green freshman, I fell madly in love with the Nicollet Mall Macy’s. I came from a really small town whose nearest mall was 30 minutes away with only the paltriest of stores: American Eagle, Pac Sun, gross. So I fell in love with Macy’s downtown. I loved its sparkly white cosmetic/perfume area, the Louis Vuitton store comfortably housed inside, the cupcakes in the basement. But my love, like any great love affair, didn’t last. Today, whilst stopping in to pay $40 of my $55 bill, I noticed yet ANOTHER rearranging of the failing department store. See, you’ve probably heard about all the unrest that’s been occuring since Macy’s took over from Marshall Fields, who in turn took over Dayton’s. When I worked at Macy’s in the fall of 2006, I was innundated with little old ladies telling me how much they missed the stores of the past, and I definitely agree. The folks at Macy’s are constantly trying to make their store as well-respected as Nordstrom and Bloomingdale’s, but there are a few hindrances in this attempt. First, the customer service at Macy’s is appalling. It isn’t great at the other stores, either, but when you can find a sales associate at Macy’s they’re usually either totally green and uninformed, or they’re rude. The store is in desperate need of a redesign; the fourth floor, where I worked, looks straight out of 1985 with its mauve tones–the “intimate apparel” department looks like a cross between a clinic waiting room and your grandma’s living room. Bad news. All Macy’s attempts to make their store “hip” aren’t working; I noticed the designer men’s jeans have been moved towards the center of all skyway traffic, and the inclusion of Ed Hardy in the labels stocked only takes away from the store’s pedigree; ladies, gentlemen, Ed Hardy is gross. Don’t buy it. My biggest problem with Macy’s, however, is their choice of in-store labels. Whereas the Marshall Field’s house brands like Gene Meyer were actually pretty well-crafted for department store brands, the Macy’s brands like INC and Charter Club are not much better than things you can get at Wal-Mart. The fabric is cheap and tacky, and the designs are cheap and tacky. Putting everything on sale every two days isn’t helping things fly off the racks, Macy’s, maybe you’d better take another look or two at the way you’re running your store. That being said, I do have good things to say about Macy’s: I love the basement with its cookware and cafeteria, and the labels up on the 3rd floor (Marc by Marc Jacobs, Milly, Robert Rodriguez, Theory) are great; of course, I can only buy them on serious clearance, but I keep an eye out. They keep a good selection of designer denim, including Chip & Pepper, True Religion, and Joe’s, and the cosmetic floor salespeople are usually really helpful and nice. So it’s doing a lot wrong, but it’s doing a few things OK.