Macy’s gets cold shoulder in Chicago

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Marshall Field's survived the great Chicago Fire of 1871 but not the Federated Department Stores merger. Last fall, after completing its acquisition of The May Co., Federated announced that all Field's stores will be converted to Macy's by September.

Marshall Field's is not the only regional brand that's disappearing: So are Rich's, Lazarus, Goldsmith's, Burdines and Bon Marche.

But Chicagoans' reaction to the disappearance of Field's, a fixture since 1852 in the market, is a striking reminder of the passion consumers can feel for a brand. It's evident in the content of a Web site, which asks visitors, "What does Marshall Field's mean to you?"

Many writers spoke of how the store-from its huge famous clocks on State Street or the restaurant in the Walnut Room or its Frango mints-was involved with significant life moments. One man told how he proposed to his wife under the south clock. Wrote another: "[T]rips to Chicago were synonymous with trips to Marshall Fields including numerous chicken pot pies and slices of Frango mint pie in the Walnut Room. ... Field's is something to be proud of, part of Chicago's heritage, part of my heritage."

Replacing a Midwestern landmark with one from New York has also ignited omnipresent tensions between New Yorkers and those who live in Chicago-often called The Second City. Wrote one consumer: "Marshall Field's is the best department store in the world, in the best city in the world. It's where the whole concept of department store customer service was invented, and now these NYC blockheads come in and think this is a wise business move."

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