Monday, October 10, 2005

My Kind of Store

There are a few things I love about Chicago. The lakefront. The dueling baseball teams. The Brown Line El train which weaves through buildings like a children's ride at an amusement park. South Side accents. Deep dish pizza.

These are landmarks of this city, cultural artifacts which make Chicago unique. It might be the Second City, but it can stand out on its own.

Which is what makes the latest development in the retail industry upsetting to most Chicagoans (myself included).

Marshall Field's, a department store synonymous with Chicago, is becoming Macy's, a store synonymous with a very different city. I am not pleased.

I love Marshall Field's. For me, it is one of those places I can go and just lose myself in the beautiful merchandise. I imagine that for New Yorkers, this place might be Bloomingdale's or Barney's. Or even that M store mentioned above. Not all Marshall Field's stores have this effect on me, but I usually feel some sense of elation upon walking into one. I am fortunate enough to work just a half a block away from the flagship store, the exquisite shop on State Street. When I am needing a break at work or something to lift my spirits during the day, I usually walk to Marshall Field's just to walk around, browse on a few floors, and maybe stop for some sushi in the lower level cafeteria.

When I was a child, my father used to take me to work with him over Christmas Vacation. I loved these days. I would sit in his office and draw on his dry-erase boards. I would type on the (now ancient) word processor. And, at lunchtime, we would look at the windows at Marshall Field's. For some reason, the windows were magical to my child self. During the last holiday season, I walked past those windows every day on the way to my train and barely even glanced. But they were a staple of Christmastime during my childhood.

I love the clocks outside the store (which used to indicate if I was late for my aforementioned train). I love the green bags given out at the store. I love the Frango mints, now only sold at specific times during the year. I love that Marshall Field's is Chicago's store.

It won't be the same place with a new name. I don't think it will conjure up those same feelings of joy when I take the escalator up to the fourth floor to browse the Marc Jacobs shoe collection or to the sixth floor to indulge in bedding. I won't be as excited to walk back to work swinging a Macy's bag (whatever color it may be), and if there are window displays I definitely won't be stopping.

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