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Macy’s Invents Street Names on New Store Maps

(Photo: “Can you tell me where you’re located?”)

I’m glad I had my camera with me today when Plankmaker and I took a shortcut through the soon-to-be “Macy’s on State Street”. All this week, workers have been busily installing new awnings outside the store and information maps within. Trouble is, no one actually proofread the new store maps before posting them throughout the store.

Ever heard of Wabash “Street”, Washington “Avenue”, or Randolph “Avenue”? Neither have I. But as the photos below show, that’s how Macy’s has labeled the store’s surrounding streets on its newly installed store information maps:

wabash street.JPG

randolph avenue.JPG

washington avenue.JPG

While that’s not a critical faux pas, it’s certainly embarrassing and not the best way to try to prove to Chicago locals that the Gotham retailer is taking its move to State Street seriously. I mean, I’m a newcomer from New York, too, and when I got here I had no trouble learning the difference between Wabash Avenue and Washington and Randolph streets.

I wanted to tell someone in authority about the errors on the new maps. I figured I’d just head to the information counter. As I was standing in front of one of the new wayfinding maps, anyway, I looked to the map to point me in the right direction. Although the information counter is in the center of the ground floor, as you can see, the map was silent on the issue:

no information counter.JPG

Imagine that: a store information map that doesn’t list the location of the store’s information counter. When I finally found it, I fought the urge to ask whether the mapping moron recently fired by the CTA had found a new home at Federated.

While I appreciate Macy’s interest in doing business in the Loop–and let’s face it, who else has pockets deep enough to finally make a modern success out of Marshall Field’s hangar-sized former home?–if they really want to impress Chicago shoppers, a good start would be showing that they know a.) where their store is located, and b.) what’s located where within it.

At least the new awnings correctly say “Macy’s on State Street”. Though the next time you walk by one, you may want to check for telltale signs of Wite-Out.

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Mike Doyle

I’m an #OpenlyAutistic gay, Hispanic, urbanist, Disney World fan, New York native, politically independent, Jewish blogger in Chicago. I believe in social justice, big cities, and public transit. I write words and raise money for nonprofits. I’ve written this blog since 2005. And counting...

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10 replies

  1. Pulling a “Lundgren”

    Who says you can’t teach an old Macy’s, Inc. CEO new tricks? Last week, Crain’s Chicago Business and the Chicago Tribune both announced the rollout of a new Macy’s marketing campaign entitled, “Take Me to State Street”. According to…

  2. Scraping on State Street: A Year of Macy’s

    (Photo: “It’s that ABC news van again…”.) It’s generally not a good sign when the ABC news van is parked in front of your establishment in the middle of the business day. So it was on Monday, as I…

  3. Perhaps Macy’s assumed that, like on Manhattan, “streets” run in one direction while “avenues” run perpendicular. Since State is a “Street”, that would make Wabash a “street” and it would make Randolph and Washington “avenues”.

    Doesn’t excuse the ridiculous lack of basic research, but it does seem understandable if Macy’s signage people worked out of NYC.

  4. In followup to this, Macy’s also doesn’t seem to get the Field’s clock.

    A few months ago, the Marshall Field’s logo started being deleted from the front of Frango boxes. But apparently in hopes of propping up sagging sales, on some boxes they added it back and included a story of the Frango, its roots with Seattle’s Frederick & Nelson before they asked Field’s to buy them, to Frango fame when Field’s picked them up in circa 1930.

    In the background of that lovely story, they print a photo of a large Field’s clock–but it’s upside down! Nice way to botch a tribute. Not only do they not know the street names around their Chicago flagship, Macy’s also doesn’t know which direction is up.

  5. Macy’s North: It’s Lonely In Here

    (Photo: Wonder what these folks want? Apparently not Macy’s cards.) If you thought you heard a citywide refrain of “I told you so” yesterday, you weren’t imagining things. According to a report in Wednesday’s Chicago Tribune, Federated finally admits…

  6. I heard about your blog via the Tribune online. Pretty good stuff. You have quite the eye for maps.

    However…question about Gotham. Doesn’t everyone know that in Batman comics, Gotham in fact…is Chicago? Superman is NYC. Batman is Chicago.

    NYC = Big Apple & Metropolis
    CHICAGO = Cowtown & Gotham

  7. Chicago Tribune Quotes Chicago Carless on Macy’s Bad Signage

    (Photo: Free with every Macy’s purchase…a Chicago street atlas?) Devyn always tells me never to leave the house without my camera. Yesterday proved why. After I discovered, photographed, and posted about wayfinding signs installed by Macy’s in their…

  8. I agree with you about the more downmarket nature of Macy’s, and the fact is Federated could have profitably kept Field’s name on the store. The Macy’s flagship stores in New York and San Francisco are operated essentially as separate business units and the State Street store will likely be, too. So independent ad campaigns and Field’s-branded merchandise wouldn’t have been out of the question.

    I also agree about the emotional hit of the name change. I’ve written exactly what you wrote above several times in the past few months, most recently yesterday in my post about the closing of Carson Pirie Scott’s State Street store.

    Although I assure you, while losing Macy’s in Herald Square would be mind-numbing for a New Yorker, Bloomie’s just doesn’t curry that much emotional devotion in Gotham. As in Chicago, that kind of love is reserved for stores with 100-year-old histories of Christmas window displays.

  9. It’s interesting to hear the perspective of a native New Yorker living in Chicago. From some of your other posts, it seems that you like a lot of what you see.

    However, I do need to disagree with you about Federated. I see Macy’s as downmarket and will never understand why they dropped the Field’s name. I don’t see why Federated couldn’t have poured the additional money (to complement the $115 million facelift Target put into it) and used its buying power to strengthen the store further without plastering the Macy’s name all over the place name and taking the product line downmarket. 2004 and 2005 Field’s sales were actually headed in the right direction.

    Maybe you need to be a native to understand, but think of it this way. In the early 1990s, Macy’s was a very broken business (much more so than Field’s was then or now). How would New Yorkers have felt if someone had renamed Bloomingdales as Field’s, and Macy’s as Carson’s? That’s essentially how we view Federated’s actions here.

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