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.


8 thoughts on “An ode to the Department Store Dinosaur

  1. I wish I shopped like normal people. I actually get a lot of stuff at Kohl’s … but mostly ’cause it’s down the road from Home Depot and Lowe’s.

    I worked at a Famous-Barr back in the`80s (one of the May family before Macy’s bought ’em out) when I was in school. Just something about those dinosaurs.

  2. Nicole, I have a hunch that you DO shop like normal people, but I suppose I’ll reserve judgment until more people comment. (IF more people comment…haha!!)

  3. There aren’t as many options in terms of department stores in Canada, even fewer now that Eatons is completely. I still like shopping for certain items at The Bay (The Hudson’s Bay Company) like housewares, linens, small appliances and that sort of thing, since they usually carry mid-range quality items at a pretty reasonable price.

    I love that creamer set, btw! Gorgeous shape and colour. I always enjoy your blog 🙂

  4. Thanks Not an Artist!! I’m glad to know you read my blog (from all that way up in Canada!)

    I’ve never heard of Eaton’s or The Bay. I’ll have to google them.

    The color is the best part of the creamer / sugar set. I’m kind of becoming obsessed with those little sets. I am constantly finding new ones that I like. What an oddball thing to latch onto?!

  5. I think department stores are overwhelming for todays shopper with limited time. You get sucked into the store and just have a difficult time getting out with out spending hours there.

  6. I like Martha too…she understands the importance of things that a lot of people don’t even think about. I love department stores, especially during the Holidays.

  7. We watch very little TV and don’t get the paper, so we don’t see ads. But my husband does buy some gifts at Lord and Taylor, since it’s on his bus route home from work. We were recently at Macy’s a few times considering one of their sofas (my mom thought we might like it). We were there later in the evening, but I was shocked that we pretty much had the store to ourselves. That gave me more space to admire the Martha stuff that I tried to convince myself I couldn’t live without.

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