Beyond Retail

Friday, July 29, 2005

Marshall Field's is...

(as posted on

Marshall Field's is... incredible. I don't think I can put the store into words. I went to the State Street store numerous times when I was in Chicago in 2003 and the entire experience was astounding. The employees helped me locate a specific section of the store, took me there, and introduced me to the salespeople in that department, despite that my purchase was only about $10! I've never had better service anywhere else. The Frango mints are to die for, I've got to order some before it's too late.

We've had Macy's here in the Boston area since 1996, and it's not great at all. It's just like any other department store; they have things to buy, but there is no flair or essence. Before 1996, Macy's was Jordan Marsh, which was basically Boston's Marshall Field's. Rather than Frango's, Jordan's had Blueberry Muffins that were beyond explanation. Jordan Marsh WAS Boston, just as Marshall Field's IS Chicago. People were sad when Jordan Marsh went away, we were some of the first to get the non-New York Macy's, and some were excited as well. If Jordan Marsh were to be slaughtered by Federated right now for Macy's, I think I'd be posting this on

Boston is losing May-owned Filene's now, and there's now way to get it back; Federated has already decided. Even worse, because there are already Macy's stores here, so New England malls will be littered with vacant Filene's anchor stores for no reason at all. But Filene's was like Carson's in Chicago, it's local in history but does not thrive off of it's heritage. Marshall Field's does, just as Jordan Marsh did.

It's far to late to save any of the other department stores lost in the last 10 years, but there's still a chance of saving Marshall Field's. It's really the last American department store, Macy's could be placed anywhere as it has no flavor at all. Federated likes to say that Macy's represents style and New York City, and that's why they want to put it everywhere. Believe me, I've been to many Macy's stores and there is no essence of New York City in the stores at all. But as others in news stories have said, why should the stores be brash like New York City rather than providing the Midwestern comfort and friendliness that makes Marshall Field's, and Chicago, far superior?

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Another prediction for the Natick Mall

Looking back at my Natick Mall/Northbrook Court/Tysons Galleria comparison, I think I've figured out another store that we'll probably get.

As you may know, next to Tysons Galleria, GGP's pricey shopping complex located outside Washington, D.C., is another mall, the lower-end Tysons Corner. Tysons Corner resembles what the original Natick Mall will resemble once the expansion opens. Despite not being owned by GGP (instead, it's owned by Macerich, and before that Wilmorite), it's quite similar to what we've already got. Similarly, Tysons Corner was there first before Tysons Galleria (which was originally known as Tysons II).

Anyhow, the point is this. Tysons Corner has an Apple Store, the retail division of Apple Computer. In fact, the Tysons Corner store was one of the first two to open back in 2001. At our similarly-beloved Northbrook Court in Northbrook, IL, outside Chicago, an Apple Store will be opening on July 16th. Could we possibly have an Apple Store in the works at the Natick Mall, either in the existing mall or in the expansion?

Many would vouch to say that MetroWest already has access to an Apple Store, the location at The Mall at Chestnut Hill over in Newton. Door-to-door from the Natick Mall, The Mall at Chestnut Hill is 11.4 miles, and 18 minutes. So, how close is Northbrook Court to the nearest Apple Store?

Even closer. Old Orchard, an upscale shopping mall in Skokie, IL, is a mere 8.4 miles and 13 minutes from Northbrook. And not to diss Chicagoland, but I personally think that there are a lot more Apple users in MetroWest and Boston then in Chicago's North Shore and even the city of Chicago, seeing all of the universities and colleges in the area, not to mention the iPod craze that has been huge in this area.

Apple is working on opening stores in Burlington, Braintree, and even Hingham. So, will the new Natick Mall Expansion bring an Apple Store with it? Judging from Northbrook and McLean, I'd say it's pretty likely, if not before then.