What has been known simply as “Macy’s Inc.”—the corporate home of two legendary retail brands, Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s—since 2007 is actually the conglomeration of more than a half-dozen major retail corporations and literally dozens of what were at first local, and later, with the postwar growth of suburbia, regional department store groups.
This story first appeared in the September 6, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The transformation of the old Macy’s, Federated Department Stores Inc., May Department Stores Co., Allied Stores Corp., Associated Dry Goods, Carter Hawley Hale Stores and Dayton Hudson Corp.’s department stores, among others, into what is now the nationwide Macy’s Inc. wasn’t accomplished without a considerable amount of difficulty and suffering. In the executive suite as well as on the sales floor, thousands of jobs were lost. Families that for generations had shopped at stores with familiar homegrown names didn’t always easily take to their replacement.
Through the combination of these once-regional companies over the course of 150 years, one can see the evolution of American retailing, from the merchandising innovations of early entrepreneurs such as John Wanamaker and Rowland H. Macy himself, through business builders like Federated’s “Mr. Fred” Lazarus, lifestyle merchants such as Macy’s Edward Finkelstein and finally the consolidators, such as Allen Questrom and Terry Lundgren, who reassembled the pieces of an industry nearly crippled by leveraged buyouts and over-expansion.
Here, some of the major events in Macy’s history.
1851–1900: FOUNDING FATHERS
• Rowland H. Macy opens a store in Haverhill, Mass.
• Macy’s opens at 14th Street and Sixth Avenue, New York.
• Macy’s employs first in-store Santa Claus.
• Stern Brothers & Co. is founded.
• Bloomingdale’s is founded.
• David May opens a store in Leadville, Colo.
• Rowland H. Macy dies.
• The Hale brothers establish The Criterion in 1880.
• Joseph L. Hudson founds J.L. Hudson Co. in Detroit.
• Maas Bros. is founded.
• The Bon Marché is founded.
• Macy’s is acquired by Isidor and Nathan Straus.
• The Broadway is founded
1901–50: POOLING THEIR INTERESTS
• Macy’s moves to its 34th Street location.
• Dayton Dry Goods Co. is founded in Minneapolis.
• Bullock’s is founded in Los Angeles.
• May Department Stores Co. is incorporated.
• Famous-Barr, St. Louis’ hometown division of May Department Stores Co., is formed via merger.
• Isidor Straus and his wife, Ida, perish on the Titanic.
• Associated Dry Goods is formed with Hahne & Co., William Hengerer Co., Lord & Taylor and Stewart & Co.
• May acquires A. Hamburger & Sons, renamed May Co. California.
• R.H. Macy & Co. acquires LaSalle & Koch in Toledo, Ohio.
• The Seventh Avenue addition of Macy’s opens, making Macy’s “The World’s Largest Store.”
• Macy’s holds its first Christmas parade.
• The Macy’s Christmas parade officially becomes the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
• Hahn’s, the predecessor company of Allied Stores, is founded, and acquires Jordan Marsh, The Bon Marché and Donaldson’s.
• Federated Department Stores Inc. is formed through a merger of the family-owned Abraham & Straus, F&R Lazarus and Filene’s.
• R.H. Macy & Co. acquires Davison’s in Atlanta and Bamberger’s in Newark, N.J.
• Bullock’s Wilshire is founded.
• Bloomingdale’s becomes part of Federated.
• Hahn’s acquires Joske’s.
• Hahn’s is reorganized and renamed Allied Stores.
• Macy’s builds its first branch store, in Parkchester, N.Y.
• Bullock’s is acquired by I. Magnin.
• Macy’s acquires O’Connor, Moffat & Co., later known as Macy’s San Francisco and Macy’s California.
• In a full-page ad in The New York Times, Macy’s boasts of selling 50,000 pairs of nylon stockings and apologizes “to those who didn’t get theirs.”
• May acquires Kaufmann’s.
• Macy’s Herald Square is glorified in Miracle on 34th Street, sections of which are shot at the store at night so as not to disrupt business.
• Macy’s acquires John Taylor Dry Goods Co., later known as Macy’s Missouri Kansas.
• Federated acquires Boston Store.
• The Criterion acquires Weinstock, Lubin & Co.
• Broadway and Criterion merge, forming Broadway-Hale Stores, later called Carter Hawley Hale Stores.
1951–80: SUBURBAN AND WESTERN EXPANSION
• Allied Stores buys Stern’s.
• Federated buys Burdines.
• May acquires Daniels & Fisher Co. and renames it May D&F.
• Jordan Marsh Florida is founded.
• ADG acquires Diamond’s.
• ADG acquires J.W. Robinson and Sibley Lindsay & Curr Co.
• May acquires The Hecht Co.
• Federated buys Goldsmith’s and Rike Kumler.
• Federated merges Sanger Brothers and A. Harris to form Sanger-Harris.
• Allied Stores acquires William H. Block.
• ADG acquires Pogue’s.
• ADG acquires Goldwater’s.
• Federated acquires I. Magnin, Bullock’s and Bullock’s Wilshire. Sales hit $1 billion.
• May acquires Meier & Frank.
• ADG acquires Stix Baer & Fuller and Denver Dry Goods.
• Jack Straus retires from Macy’s, ending the 72-year family dynasty at the store.
• Dayton’s and Hudson’s merge to establish Dayton Hudson Corp., later Target Corp.
• Broadway-Hale acquires Neiman Marcus and Emporium-Capwell.
• Broadway-Hale acquires Bergdorf Goodmanand Holt Renfrew.
• ADG acquires L.S. Ayres & Co. and Joseph Horne.
• The spring flower show returns to Macy’s after a five-year hiatus.
• Federated acquires Foley’s.
• Broadway-Hale is renamed Carter Hawley Hale Stores (CHH).
• A tradition is born with the first Macy’s Fireworks Spectacular during the nation’s bicentennial.
• CHH’s hostile takeover of Marshall Field’s fails.
• CHH acquires Thalhimer’s and John Wanamaker.
• Federated acquires Rich’s.
• CHH acquires Contempo Casuals.
1981–2000: CONSOLIDATION AND CHANGE
• Allied Stores acquires Garfinckel’s, Brooks Brothers and Miller & Rhoads, which includes Ann Taylor Stores.
• Federated merges Rike’s and Shillito’s.
• Allied Stores merges Gertz into Stern’s.
• The first of two hostile takeover bids for CHH by Limited fails.
• Campeau Corp. acquires Allied Stores in a highly leveraged transaction.
• Macy’s is taken private in a leveraged buyout led by Edward Finkelstein, chief executive officer.
• May Co. acquires Associated Dry Goods.
• Limited fails again to buy CHH, which sells Holt Renfrew.
• Federated merges Shillito Rike’s into Lazarus.
• Macy’s sells LaSalle’s operation to Elder-Beerman.
• Allied Stores sells Cain-Sloan and Joske’s to Dillard’s, Donaldson’s to Carson Pirie Scott and William H. Block and Herpolsheimer’s to Federated, and combines Jordan Marsh Florida and Maas Bros.
• CHH spins off Neiman Marcus Group and sells Wanamaker to Woodward & Lothrop.
• Following a bidding war with Macy’s, Campeau Corp. buys Federated, which in turn sells Bullock’s and I. Magnin to Macy’s and Foley’s, and Filene’s to May Co., cutting nearly 8,000 administrative jobs.
• Campeau sells Ann Taylor, the last of the former Allied’s specialty store holdings, to an investment group including former Lord & Taylor ceo Joseph Brooks and Merrill Lynch.
• Unable to keep up with debt, Federated and Allied Stores file for bankruptcy.
• Dayton Hudson acquires Marshall Field’s from BATUS Inc.
• May acquires Thalhimer’s from CHH.
• CHH files for Chapter 11.
• Maas Bros. merges into Burdines.
• Macy’s files for Chapter 11.
• Allied Stores is merged into Federated and the combined entity emerges from bankruptcy as Federated Department Stores. Campeau holds no equity.
• CHH exits bankruptcy as Broadway Stores Inc.
• Jordan Marsh and Abraham & Straus are merged.
• Federated acquires R.H. Macy & Co., establishing the largest department store group in the U.S.
• Woodward & Lothrop files for Chapter 11.
• Federated acquires Broadway Stores.
• Macy’s launches macys.com.
• May acquires Strawbridge & Clothier.
• May acquires Jones Store.
• May acquires ZCMI and merges it into May D&F.
2001–08: PICKING UP THE PIECES
• Federated buys Liberty House, merging it into Macy’s West.
• Macy’s celebrates 100 years at Herald Square.
• The Bon Marché becomes Bon-Macy’s.
• May acquires Marshall Field’s from Target Corp.
• Federated/Macy’s acquires May Department Stores Co. Bon-Macy’s, Burdines-Macy’s, Goldsmith’s-Macy’s, Lazarus-Macy’s and Rich’s-Macy’s are renamed Macy’s.
• More than 400 former May stores are renamed Macy’s, making Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s the two surviving nameplates of what had been dozens of regional department stores.
• Lord & Taylor is sold to NRDC.
• Federated Department Stores becomes Macy’s Inc.
• Macy’s institutes My Macy’s localization initiatives, continues to develop exclusive and private brand programs and reports 2007 sales of $26.3 billion.