Archive for the 'Lazarus' Category

What’s in a Name? A whole lot more than you’d think…

Disclaimer: The following post, you’ll find, has little to do with Transit or recent development, but I’d like to take the time to address the apathetic attitude of our locals when it comes down to our city’s culture, history, and identity by discussing the re-branding of our local brand Burdines to Macy’s.

On June 1, the behemoth corporation known as Federated Department Stores will officially become Macy’s Inc., a move which further unifies but isolates the national retailer in the eyes of many. Federated Department Stores, which itself only acquired Macy’s in the mid 90’s, was responsible for the re-branding of local retailers across the country including our very own Burdines stores (acquired by Federated in 1956.) Other local regional retailers affected by the name games include: Bon Marche (Washington), Goldsmith’s (Tennessee), Lazarus (Cincinnati), Kauffman’s (Pittsburgh), Filene’s (Boston), Foley’s (Houston), L.S. Ayers (Indianapolis), Hecht’s (Maryland), and Marshall Field’s (Chicago) among others. In 2005, Federated Department stores completed the renaming of these and several other department stores nationwide.

Part of me can’t blame Federated for making a move to create a national brand image for their department stores. However, another part of me longs for the unique qualities of each retailer, the names, the history, and the traditions they instilled in the communities which fostered their growth.

It’s the removal of a crucial piece of local history- and the public reaction since which really strikes a chord within me. In early 2004, when Burdines became Burdines-Macy’s I encountered many people who shared my same displeasure with the new moniker. I, like many people, had always associated the Macy’s name with New York, the Thanksgiving Day parade, and iconic store in Herald Square. Likewise, we had always associated Burdines with our hometown, the Downtown Christmas display (for those old enough to remember it), the tacky plastic palm trees, or the Art Deco Marquee on Meridan Avenue. Simply put, to see the two names combined was appalling if not downright confusing. What shocked me most (which with 20/20 hindsight really shouldn’t have) was the passive response of locals. It irked me to see the work of William M. Burdine, a pioneer in our community in 1898, just two years after Flagler’s FEC arrived, wash away so easily under a corporate renaming scheme. The History which built Burdines into “The Florida Store,” is nearly repeated and identical when looking at all the other stores listed above. Each city had its own distinctive flagship store located downtown and started by an entrepreneur in the mid to late 1800’s.

Like Burdines, many of the department stores went down without major local opposition. There is one key exception, however: Marshall Fields. The citizens of Chicago have organized in opposition of the Macy’s re-branding in an effort to revert the Chicago Icon to its former glory and if not, at least preserve the history that Federated has consciously tried to erase. The Marshall Fields Supporters have held rallies, gathered thousands of signatures on petitions, and have been boycotting Macy’s since it removed the Chicago name. So far, it’s working. Macy’s sales at the once flagship store have dropped considerably. Federated’s sales are down nationwide and the chain missed analyst’s expectations. The same effect can be seen in the Ohio area where the Lazarus stores were re-branded and in Seattle where Bon-Marsh once thrived. As this article is careful to point out, sales have dropped nearly nationwide, except Miami:

MIAMI
At Burdines, another market where Macy’s has been around for two decades, the renaming appeared to have little effect. Of those shoppers surveyed, 47 percent said they shopped at Macy’s in 2006, unchanged from the 47 percent in 2004 that shopped at Burdines-Macy’s. In 2002, 57 percent surveyed shopped at either Burdines or Macy’s. When asked to break it out, 51 percent of shoppers frequented Burdines and 24 percent visited Macy’s.

Coincidence? I think not, it seems like more of a lack of local identity to me…

Former flagship Lazarus Department store in downtown Cincinnati compared to the bland, characterless new store introduced under the Macy’s name (Via Wikipedia)…

Here is an interesting piece of information I just discovered. The site of the “iconic” Sears Tower, integrated with the struggling Carnival Center, was originally a Burdines store before Sears bought the land next door, built the tower, and bought them out…

  • Thanks to Magic City on SSC for the Historical Pictures…
  • This article was written in part due to an e-mail sent to me by the South Beach Hoosier, thanks for the contribution David…