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CHICAGO CARLESS Tips Citywide Media on Macy’s Blundered Signage

(Photo: Free with every Macy’s purchase…a Chicago street atlas?)

[This post was edited at 10:00 p.m. after an unexpected but satisfying day of hullabaloo.]

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 new digs on State Street that actually list incorrect names for the streets surrounding the store, others found my entry about Macy’s poor proofreading skills hard to resist.

First, Gapers Block linked back to my post yesterday afternoon under the lampooning headline, “Macy’s on State Avenue”. I’m a big fan of Gapers Block, and was gratified by their coverage.

I’m also gratified by their reach. Soon after making it onto GB’s front page, a reporter from the Chicago Tribune contacted me to discuss my blogpost about the errant signage. So today, thanks to GB and, frankly, Federated’s poor quality control, the Tribune wrote an article about my blog post from yesterday (“Macy’s shows lack of street sense regarding landmark Field’s store”) and published it…on the front page of the Business section. The article went on to become the newspaper’s number-one emailed news story of the day.

But the news didn’t end there. By day’s end, the blundered-signage story–with my quote included–was picked up on the UPI newswire and distributed nationally, and independent reports appeared on the local CBS, FOX, and WGN evening news. [Edit: And as the weekend rolled around, I was quoted and three of my pictures were featured in the Business Insider section of the Detroit News, and let me just say Hi, Aretha!] Talk about the power of the blogosphere.

Not that my intent was to bring citywide shame to Federated–they managed that all by themselves (well, maybe with a little help from their graphics department). But when you’re under intense scrutiny from an entire city of your potential customers many of whom have already labeled you callous and capricious when it comes to local culture, it’s really best to dot your “i”s and cross your “t”s. Or at least to show that you know where the store you bought is actually located.

To the women from the Macy’s information desk who, upon my informing them of the erroneous signage, said to me, “Thanks for telling us and not the Tribune”, I have but one thing to say in my defense.


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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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24 replies

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  5. “Welcome to (Whose?) New Macy’s”

    This weekend, as the respirator plug is pulled on Marshall Field’s once and for all, Federated will finally get to see how well their big advertising push to lure old Field’s customers to the new “Macy’s on State Street”…

  6. Well if that happens you do, of course, realize that the State Street store will…OK smarty pants, get ready for it now…CLOSE, don’t you?

    Be careful what you wish for. Macy’s didn’t kill Marshall Field’s, Field’s killed themselves. You may not enjoy the fact that Federated is getting rid of the old nameplate. But Chicago owes them thanks–no matter how hamfisted their public realtions talents–for wanting to keep the store open and to try to make it work.

    Because, in that, er, department, like it or not they’re the only game in town.

  7. “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,” Doyle wrote on his blog.


    Mr Doyle, ohhh Mr Doyle. I don’t know what it takes to create a faux pas in New York but this goes way “pas” “faux pas” here in Chicago. In fact, the pinheads at Federated must have imported the idiots (who did the work) from out of town to get this wrong.

    If we can take this to be a glimpse into their overall management style it should be fun to watch them wither, dry up and blow away down State Booouleeevard.

  8. Big Trouble Over Huge Sandwich

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  9. Cheryl,

    My sister made the exact same comparison between Herald Square (or is it Herald Circle?) and Goldblatt’s.

    It’s good to see a lot more activity on the site.

  10. Out of all of the names they could have picked (Fields and Filenes come to mind) they picked Macys. I’ve been to the NY Macys. They might as well be calling it Goldblatts.

  11. Quick update: Just walked through Field’s at lunch today and the erroneous signage has been taken down and replaced with the old Field’s floor plans. Great reporting! Cheryl said it well, Macy’s is dead to me too.

  12. C’mon, Cheryl, tell us what you really think 😉

    My suspicion is that some functionary in a New York back office knew the full name of one street–State Street–and just figured that “streets” and “avenues” ran at 90 degrees to each other in Chicago just like they do in Manhattan. Thus “Wabash Street” parallel to State Street, and Randolph and Washington “Avenues” meeting the former two thoroughfares at right angles.

    The Trib article points to this likely being the case. Anyone in Chicago, mush less in the State Street store itself, could simply have looked above the main entrances inside the store, itself, where the correct names of all the adjacent streets are fully spelled out.

    Or they could just have looked at a street sign.

  13. Did they just assume that streets go one way and avenues go the other (as in north/south or east/west)? Or that we wouldn’t notice? Doesn’t matter–Macy’s is dead to me anyway.

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