WBEZ | Marshall Field's http://www.wbez.org/tags/marshall-fields Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Macy's vs. Target: Where are shoppers getting their goods? http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-04/macys-vs-target-where-are-shoppers-getting-their-goods-98091 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Marshall%20Fields_4.jpg" style="float: left; width: 300px; height: 225px; " title="Chicago-based Marshall Field's changed its name to Macy's in 2006.(Flickr/daniela)">Picture this. It's a Monday night, you've had a long day at work but you need to pick up a few things before you head home. Maybe you need a prescription, some laundry detergent and a new dress. Do you head to three different spots to get each item or try and get everything at one place?</p><p>In our busy, harried times, it's probably more often the latter. In the days of multi-purpose retailers-stores aiming to be everything to everyone, we may be visiting our local department stores less frequently. Illinois-based Sears and Texas-based JC Penney have both struggled to retain customers in recent years. JC Penney last week <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/jc-penney-eliminates-600-workers-or-13-percent-of-hq-staff-300-more-planned-at-call-center/2012/04/05/gIQAHm3ZxS_story.html" target="_blank">announced 900 lay-offs at the company</a>, and Sears is <a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-03-16/sears-to-close-62-stores-in-first-half-of-this-year-to-cu.html" target="_blank">expected to close stores this summer </a>as sales slide at the company. So with department stores like these losing sales, where are consumers getting their goods instead? Is the department store still a viable option for the busy consumer looking to save during a weathered economy?<em> </em></p><p><em><a href="http://www.chicagobusiness.com/section/on-retail" target="_blank">Crain's Chicago Business</a></em> reporter Brigid Sweeney joins <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em> to discuss where consumers are shopping these days, and how some department stores are still able to compete.</p><p>Historian and architect Bruce Kopytek has always been fascinated with the design elements and structural details of department stores. But as a history lover, he wanted to learned more about the people who visit these stores, and the traditions attach to the company's name. Born and berd in Detroit, Kopytek is author of <em>Jacobson's: I Miss It So!: The Story of a Michigan Fashion Institution</em> and writes the blog <a href="http://departmentstoremuseum.blogspot.com/" target="_blank">The Department Store Museum</a>. He pours over old newspaper clippings, and collects memories from readers to share the history of department stories on his blog. He shares some of those stories Tuesday on <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em>.</p></p> Tue, 10 Apr 2012 09:10:13 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-04/macys-vs-target-where-are-shoppers-getting-their-goods-98091 In ‘Uncle Mistletoe,’ TV ephemera from Marshall Field’s golden age http://www.wbez.org/story/%E2%80%98uncle-mistletoe%E2%80%99-tv-ephemera-marshall-field%E2%80%99s-golden-age-97139 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2012-March/2012-03-09/marshall fields christmas tree_flickr_nicole.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Despite its 2006 name change, Marshall Field’s place in Chicago’s history is secure. The beloved and much-vaunted department store was so crucial to the city’s early years that in the 1880s it was said Chicago boiled down to just two things: the Stockyards and Marshall Field &amp; Co.</p><p>The grand Midwestern temple of shopping built its reputation of service and elegance with its central light well, its vaulted Tiffany ceiling, the warm wooden panels of the Walnut Room and its signature Frango Mints. It also survived not one but two major fires; destroyed though it was each time, the store was always rebuilt, grander than before. In the days before suburban malls siphoned off shoppers, you could buy a Marshall Field’s exclusive Dior gown in the store’s separate “28” boutique, have silver engraved or kid gloves repaired, send a telegram or buy a theater ticket. Then you could steal a moment of repose on one of the chaise lounges in its “silence room” if the shopping became too much.</p><p>But the city’s beloved department store was also responsible for at least one strange bit of media ephemera: &nbsp;a brand-extension meets Howdy Doody-style semi-animated children’s TV show called <em>The Adventures of Uncle Mistletoe</em>:</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/VwMnjQ2r7DE" frameborder="0" height="338" width="601"></iframe></p><p>Uncle Mistletoe was the store’s Christmas mascot, a hand puppet that looked like a cruder version of Monopoly's Uncle Moneybags, who apparently held the thankless-sounding job of office manager in Santa’s workshop. According to Chicago historian Leslie Goddard, author of <em>Remembering Marshall Field's</em> (Arcadia Publishing, 2011) Mistletoe served as some kind of a liaison between Santa and the youngest Field’s shoppers. Though the TV show ran for just a few seasons starting in the late 1940s, Uncle Mistletoe’s top hat crowned the famous Walnut Room Christmas tree for many years.</p><p>Marshall Fields created the character to compete with Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, who was introduced by competitor Montgomery Ward in 1939. But unlike Rudolph, who had his own 1960s Rankin/Bass Claymation specials and became so embraced by the culture as a whole that today we’ve lost sight of his commercial origins, Uncle Mistletoe faded into obscurity. He was always exclusive to the store, and one might argue Fields mismanaged the brand. You know your Christmas mascot is in trouble when he’s seen carving jack-o-lanterns as Halloween mist rolls past your store’s iconic brass clocks.</p><p>Goddard spoke at an event in early February. You can hear her expound on the Uncle Mistletoe origin story in the audio above.</p><p><a href="../../series/dynamic-range">Dynamic Range </a><em>showcases hidden gems unearthed from </em>Chicago Amplified’s <em>vast archive of public events and appears on weekends. Leslie Goddard spoke at an event presented by the</em> <a href="http://www.architecture.org/Page.aspx"><em>Chicago Architecture Foundation </em></a><em>in February. Click </em><a href="../../story/leslie-goddard-remembering-marshall-fields-96954"><em>here </em></a><em>to hear the event in its entirety.</em></p></p> Sat, 10 Mar 2012 12:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/%E2%80%98uncle-mistletoe%E2%80%99-tv-ephemera-marshall-field%E2%80%99s-golden-age-97139 State Street's 'Marble Palace' http://www.wbez.org/blog/john-r-schmidt/2011-10-12/state-streets-marble-palace-92140 <p><p>The ad was prominently placed, in the upper-right corner of the front page of the <em>Chicago Tribune</em> of October 12, 1868. "REMOVAL AND OPENING" its headline read. Field, Leiter &amp; Company was coming to State Street.</p><p>Marshall Field--the man, not the store--had arrived in Chicago in 1856 at age 21. Within a few years he'd become a partner in Potter Palmer's thriving dry goods store on Lake Street. In 1867 Palmer sold his share of the business to Field and Levi Leiter.</p><p>Palmer was now concentrating on real estate. Lake Street had always been Chicago's shopping street. But Lake Street was only a block from the river and the produce market and all their odors. Palmer thought State Street was the avenue of the future.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://www.wbez.org/sites/default/files/blog/insert-image/2011-September/2011-09-18/10-12--Field%27s%20Marble%20Palace.jpg" title="The Marble Palace" width="490" height="386"></p><p>Palmer began buying and building along State. On the northeast corner of State and Washington he erected a six-story, marble-clad commercial structure. He had little trouble convincing his former partners to relocate there--even at a stiff rent of $50,000 a year.</p><p>So over ten nights in October 1868, Field and Leiter moved their stock from Lake Street to the new store. At 10 a.m. on the morning of the 12th, the doors were thrown open and the public admitted. Field and Leiter, along with their junior partners, greeted the arrivals. Each man who entered was given a cigar, and each woman was given a rose.</p><p>The <em>Tribune</em> called the store's opening "the grandest affair of its kind which ever transpired in Chicago." Customers were amazed at the elegance of the marble palace. They also appreciated the store's liberal refund policy--if you decided to return something, you'd get your money back, cheerfully and with no questions asked. As Field himself put it, he would "give the lady what she wants."</p><p>The marble palace lasted only three years, until it was destroyed by the Great Fire. Field and Leiter rebuilt on the site. By the time Field bought out Leiter in 1881, State Street had become Chicago's main shopping street.</p><p>Marshall Field died in 1906. One year later, his company opened the world's largest department store on State Street. The building remains today, operated as a branch of Macy's.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 12 Oct 2011 12:15:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/john-r-schmidt/2011-10-12/state-streets-marble-palace-92140