An ode to the Department Store Dinosaur
When I first graduated college back in the late 90s, I got a job as an Assistant Department Manager at Macys. It certainly wasn’t my dream job, but I figured I had to start somewhere. Growing up I’d always loved going to the big department stores at the mall with my mom. We shopped [the sale racks] at the best department stores in the South - Richs, Belks, Davidson’s, and Macys. I loved walking through the cosmetics area trying on perfume samples, examining each handbag as if it were going to be mine, and wishing my parents would buy me a pair of Guess jeans. The department store represented a place where my mom and I could understand each other and have fun. It was also a place where I could be alone, yet not feel by myself. Perhaps then, it wasn’t a big surprise that I ended up working there.
But by the time I began working at Macys, the age of the department store was coming to a swift end. Most of the big ones were closing. Discount stores like Kohls & Marshalls were popping up everywhere, and Target offered similar items such as Calphalon, and branded home items. Even when I worked at at Macys, I always referred to it as a “department store dinosaur.” And now, I’m surprised that they’re still hanging on at all.
However, last evening I happened to be in a mall (which is extremely rare for me these days), and I felt that age old feeling of calm rush over me. It’s an odd feeling. After so many years of working in a mall, I find it relaxing now. And so I wandered until I made it back to my old stomping ground – Macys. They always had good sales after all. Why not? I was interested in finally checking out Martha Stewart’s line of housewares in person. It was hard not to buy anything considering how much I liked her stuff.
(As an aside, and as a topic for a future post…I LOVE Martha! I think she’s a savvy business woman, and I also happen to like a lot of her products. Although I didn’t buy any.)
There was hardly anyone in the store as it was getting close to closing time, but it made me wonder if anyone shops there anymore? I constantly hear cheesy ads for Lord & Taylor on the radio, but it’s not a place I think of my peers going. (I did notice last night that Macys still has great housewares markdowns by the way.)
Anyways, do any of you still shop at department stores? Where are those places that you can’t help but spend money when you go in? For me, it’s my favorite thrift shop in West Philly, any mom-n-pop hardware store and Target. In fact today I got a vintage creamer & sugar that is the exact color of my dining room. The glaze was too gorgeous (in person) to pass over.