Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Post Wherein the Inner Portlander Fights and Claws its Way Through

There's a Macy's commercial that's been running since the day before Halloween. It's celebrating the 150 years of holiday frippery brought to us by our friendly neighborhood department store. Thanks to YouTube, you can view it below:

The ad actually depresses me every time I see it. For although I was raised watching Miracle on 34th St and the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade...I wasn't raised with Macy's. I'd never even been in one. We didn't have them in Oregon.

About 3 or 4 years ago, Macy's bought out Meier & Frank...a Portland-based department store chain that had been around since the mid 1800s.

To be truthful - the company had gotten run down over the last decade. The classic downtown store was looking a little shabby. The old gold elevators slower than just taking the stairs. The dining room on the top floor resembled the mint green interior of a high-end retirement home. But every winter, the windows were dressed in honor of the 12 Days of Christmas and I loved them.

Sadly, I never took any pictures. Meier & Frank was such an old institution - it never occurred to me that it would one day it would just go away. So what you see here has been hijacked from the internet.

And now it's gone. The old store was gutted and given a sterile white interior. It's a Macy's, just like every other Macy's across the country. It's old school character is completely gone...and I'll never get to see the Can-Can geese again. So when that damn commercial comes on, I have to mute it or I get teary.

Today we spent the afternoon in Ikea (hating everyone). There was a need for some shelving and since we were in "relaxed weekend mode", out we went. Half way through the top floor, peckishness set in, so we checked out the cafeteria. The snaking line promised a 45 minute wait. No thanks. The unilateral decision was made to skip the rest of the top floor and go downstairs to the good shit...where we discovered that the dishes we'd been holding off getting a full set of are now discontinued. Ok, keep walking. Our item-filled cart was stolen in bathwares. We ran back through and re-loaded with two full armfuls (too afraid to get another cart) and finally made it to the warehouse only to discover that the shelves we'd decided on were out of stock. Pouts were assuaged with a zippy little ride on a newly acquired flatbed cart, but all in all, we were what one might call "failures" at being productive in Ikea. It's the kind of wasted afternoon that where one can only find solace in a new pair of shoes. Alas.

The point of the above tale of woe is that we live in a world of Macy's and Ikea now. The *little* local shops just aren't there anymore. Not for most of us. If one needs shelves, that need will result in one's Sunday mirroring my own. It's a daunting prospect. And I'm wondering what I can do about it.

I heard on the radio the other day that Walmart has been the only retailer showing profits throughout the entire recession. I say, fuck that. To the extent I can, I'm going to make a more concerted effort to support my local shelves. That's my plan. No Target. No more Ikea. Macy's can bite me. My biggest Christmas gift will be to my local economy this year...and I'm convinced I can do it (even if the "No Target" sentence made me throw up a little in my mouth). So there you have it. A cause. A stance. A plan. I can't possibly fail. Because I'm totally going to go close that tab I've got open right now.

11 keep(s) me blogging:

Anonymous said...

That just seems to be the way things go. The sad reality of the world is that NOTHING lasts forever. I had a favorite local store that got pushed out of the neighborhood and every time I pass the building my heart aches.

Some day the world will just be a big Walmart and our only dining options will be KFC, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut and maybe Olive Garden for the less fiscally challenged.

But there are some good things that come with the non-stop change in the world. Few come to mind right now other than the most recent change in the White House.

By the only took ONE time in IKEA for me to decide it was a pile of crap and I had no desire to go back and fight the masses of sheep. The meatballs suck anyway. So stop going there if you hate what they represent.

The future said...

Uh oh, don't tell The Face the meatballs suck, he'll be sorely upset. But back to your post, between the little bit of throw up in your mouth and the need to close The Gap tab, why do I doubt you'll successfully reach your lofty and laudable goal? Although you could get me a local teapot and I'd love it.

Gorilla Bananas said...

They stole your item-filled cart? But they'd have to pay for it at the checkout anyway, right? So someone must have wanted the exact same things you did. This is very spooky. It must have been your evil double from a parallel universe.

Ms. Salti said...

Who in their right mind would steal your cart? Such assholes! I know exactly how you feel, but the sad thing is, there are so few local businesses around anymore. There are a lot here in Utah, but I've failed to find more than a few in Alabama. I've been utterly surprised at the lack of local restaurants, shops, etc. in Montgomery. I don't know if I can give up my Tarjay, but I do try to shop locally whenever possible!

Ms. Salti said...

Aaaand... We used to have ZCMI here (it was the local department store owned by the Mormon church, but we're not going there, and it's beside the point anyway) and then Meier & Frank bought them out. All during the time it was ZCMI and Meier & Frank, we had the decorated windows in the downtown store. They were always sooo much fun. Then, as you know, Macy's bought them out, and we got screwed out of our windows too. To top it all off, Macy's has the worst selection of everything I've ever seen in a department store. So yeah, Macy's can suck it!

erin said...

That's a totally excellent idea. I try to do that as much as possible, but sometimes when you have a freaking ginormous family of hungry beast like creatures to feed and clothe you have to give in to the mega beasts (i.e. the dreaded walmart and the toxic target) now and again.

Robert the Skeptic said...

My Mom used to take me to the big Macy's in downtown San Francisco every year before Christmas. That and the other big department store, City of Paris which had a christmas tree that went up 10 stories in the middle of the store. Nearby was Robinsons pet store (of Hitchcock's "The Birds") fame. Macys was one of the anchor stores for some of the very first shopping malls. Yeah, it's definitely not Ikea.

The luster has tarnished off of Macys. Recently they were found to be selling gold and diamond jewelry with no gold or diamonds in them. Another nail in the coffin of the dying chain. You can read the account of it here:

Anonymous said...

Macy's has some nice shoes.

Thats all I can say about that.

Stinkypaw said...

I fully support your stance. My folks operated a local grocery store, and the big chains did yank theirs often... but they managed because of locals who wanted to encourage the little shops.

These days, a lot of people let their wallets do the talking - they shop where it's cheaper, thus Walmart... sad but a fact of our economy.

Mary Witzl said...

I never had enough money to shop at Macy's when I lived in San Francisco. But I was there just at the time they decided to take down City of Paris -- everyone felt just the same as you do, really bummed out.

We're cheapskates and manage to get most of our stuff secondhand, though occasionally we brave the crowds and do Ikea. Inevitably, what we want isn't there. When that happens, we tell ourselves we didn't need it in the first place. Which is usually true. And books look great on the floor!

theWaif said...

Sorry, cannot join you in the IKEA boycott. I must have their lingonberries on a regular basis or I get wiggy. Plus, Beckett would disown me if I told him he couldn't go there anymore. Yes, a 3-year old would disown his parents. He'd find a way. That kid would do anything for those meatballs.