As many people are aware, the Macys of today is a far cry from the Macys of yesteryear. Today the retailer is the largest department store chain in the Unites States with over 650 full-line stores and annual sales in excess of $27 billion. But it was only 20 years ago that Macys was sitting in bankruptcy pondering how it was going to emerge. On July 14th, 1994 a press release announced that Federated Department Stores was going to merge with Macys and would jointly develop a plan to bring Macys out of bankruptcy.
At the time Federated consisted of numerous regional department store chains, such as Bullock's (South California), Abraham & Straus (Metro New York), Burdines (Florida), I.Magnin (California), Jordan Marsh (New England), Richs (Southeast U.S.) and Sterns (Northeast U.S.), among others. Macys, on the other hand, had already changed the names of its regional chains like Davidsons and Bambergers to Macys.
In early 1994, Macys emerged from bankruptcy protection as part of Federated Department Stores. The following year, Federated announced it would acquire the large southwest department chain, the Broadway Stores (which itself operated stores under additional names such names as Emporium Capwell (Northern California), Broadway Southwest (Arizona) and Weinstocks (Sacramento area).
During the 1990's and continuing into the 2000's, many of the Federated regional nameplates were converted to the Macys name, as management felt the Macys name had enough recognition to roll out on a national level.
During this time, Federated-Macys' biggest competitor was May Company. Like Federated, it operated multiple regional department store chains (11 chains) consisting, in total, of over 300 stores. Among its nameplates were Strawbridges, Marshall-Fields, Foleys, Meier & Frank, Famous-Barr, Hechts and Lord & Taylor.
In February 2005, Federated announced it was buying its main rival. By this time, all of the Federated-Macys regional chain names had become Macys, with the exception of Bloomingdales, which was deemed to be a different customer from the core Macys customer. Bllomingdales also happened to be doing exceptionally well at the time (a trend which has continued to this day). Although there was a bit of backlash in certain geographic areas (most notably Chicago), the company started the process of either incorporating the newly acquired regional chains under the Macys nameplate, or divested store locations because they were deemed to be duplicative by Macys management or were required to be sold by the FTC. The entire Lord & Taylor department store chain and David's Bridal specialty store chain were both sold off after the purchase of May Company.
Now you may be wondering why this article is titled Macys Heritage Store when, in fact, it has been mostly about Federated and Macys history during the past 25 years. Well here's the answer to that…
For those shoppers who still miss the regional department store they may have shopped at before it became a Macys, some chains with histories that went back to the 1800's, Macys actually now offers a few key memorabilia/ souvenir type items emblazoned with the name of several of those former store chains. Below are a few of the highlights from the Macys Heritage Brand online store.