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3:23 am EDT        76°F (24°C) in Tiffin, IA

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Midwestern shoppers are in for another big shock beginning this upcoming January. On Tuesday, Federated Department Stores Inc., the owner of the Macy’s retail chain, announced that it will be converting Marshall Field’s stores in the Midwest — including the famous Marshall Field’s location at State Street and Washington Avenue in the Chicago Loop — to Macy’s stores. This change will affect Marshall Field’s locations not only in Chicagoland, but also in its other two Midwestern strongholds of Minnesota and Michigan.

I can think of a lot of older Detroiters who still aren’t too happy over the 2001 renaming of Hudson’s stores with the Marshall Field’s name. For decades, Hudson’s had been the retail icon of Detroit, best known for its 20-plus-story store and warehouse on Woodward Avenue downtown. The largest American flag ever made once proudly flew atop the downtown Hudson’s store in its heyday; suburbanites would flock from some 20 miles away to shop or visit the lunch counter at that famous store. Sadly, as Detroit started going downhill after the August 1967 race riots, that store suffered, and when the flow of suburban shoppers dried up, the downtown Hudson’s closed its doors permanently in 1983. I obviously don’t remember it, since I was only 3 when it closed, but people of my parents’ generation and older who had ever been to that store remember it fondly.

Even as the downtown store sat vacant for 15 years until its October 24, 1998 demolition, Hudson’s maintained a strong presence in the Detroit area, mostly in suburban mall locations, and anybody who wanted to shop at a more upscale department store knew that Hudson’s was the place to go. As I mentioned above, though, Target Corp. (the former Dayton-Hudson Corp.) decided in 2001 to rename all Dayton’s and Hudson’s stores to Marshall Field’s — a move that upset many older shoppers in both Detroit and Minneapolis. Four years later, after Target spun off Marshall Field’s and Field’s ended up in the hands of Federated, the name is going to change again.

Perhaps Detroiters, having already been through this once with the demise of the Hudson’s name four years ago, aren’t going to think too much of another name change, but if yesterday’s Chicago Tribune is any indication, people in the Windy City are absolutely livid. The Trib ran some five dozen or so letters from angry Chicagoans, all of whom were up in arms over the loss of a Chicago-born-and- bred retail icon, on its op-ed page, and even the business pages were dominated by that story. Even though Federated is based in Cincinnati, this move is being viewed in Chicago as the takeover of one of Chicago’s most beloved businesses by a competitor better known as an icon of New York; in some ways, it kind of serves to reinforce the “Second City” status that gnaws away at proud Chicagoans.

(Macy’s is best known for its store at Broadway and 34th Street in midtown Manhattan — the one so prominently featured in the classic 1947 film Miracle on 34th Street. When I made a quick visit to Manhattan in May 2003, that Macy’s store still looked very much like it did in the movie, with only minor cosmetic changes. In addition to that, Macy’s has been the title sponsor of New York’s Thanksgiving Day parade for years, which only even further adds to Macy’s status as a New York icon. Speaking of that, I have to wonder: since Hudson’s, and later Marshall Field’s, was the title sponsor of Detroit’s Thanksgiving Day parade, is Macy’s now going to sponsor Detroit’s parade as well as New York’s?)

I’m actually going to have something different to do for a change. For the first time in over two years, I’m heading to Cull-ee-fawn-yuh (that’s Ahh-nuld speak for California), with a load for which not even “girlie men” would have any use. I’ll leave it to your imagination as to exactly what is in my trailer. wink