Little Bits of History

Fancy Dry Goods Store

Posted in History by patriciahysell on October 28, 2010

Macy's flagship department store with the famous brownstone at 34th and Broadway. (Photo by PlusMinus)

October 27, 1858: Rowland Hussey Macy opens a “fancy dry goods” store on the corner of 6th Avenue and 14th Street in New York City. The gross receipts for opening day were $1106. Macy’s store originally had a rooster for a trademark, however he changed it to a star, a replica of a tattoo he had received while in the Navy – the guiding star that helped him when he was lost at sea.

Macy had previously owned four dry goods store in Massachusetts, all of which failed. He learned from his failures and moved to NYC to become a success. In 1902, the store moved to Herald Square where the building was nine stories high with 33 elevators and 4 wooden escalators. An addition was completed in 1924, making Macy’s the “World’s Largest Store.” In 1994, Macy’s joined the Federated Department Stores to create the larges retailer of its type in America and three years later, Macy’s was on the World Wide Web enabling shopping worldwide. Today, there are over 800 Macy’s stores across America.

In 1862, Macy’s store raised the bar for the Christmas shopping “experience” by introducing the first in-store Santa Claus. Two years later, Macy created elaborate window displays to entice those strolling along outside the store. In 1866, Margaret Getchell became the first woman retail executive when she becomes Macy’s store superintendent.

In 1925, another Christmas tradition was born. The first Macy’s parade, originally titled “Macy’s Christmas Parade.” The first parade featured live animals from the Central Park Zoo and store employees marching. The large balloons were added in 1927 when Felix the Cat soared over the crowd. Originally the balloons were released after the parade. Due to war time rationing, the parade was not held from 1942-1944. The parade had been televised since 1952.

“A salesman minus enthusiasm is just a clerk.” – Harry F. Banks

“Salesmanship consist of transferring a conviction by a seller to a buyer.” – Paul G. Hoffman

“When a man is trying to sell you something, don’t imagine he is that polite all the time.” – Edgar Watson Howe

“For the merchant, even honesty is a financial speculation.” – Charles Baudelaire

“Never underestimate the power of the irate customer.” – Joel E. Ross and Michael J. Kami

Also on this day, in 1904 the NYC Subway System opened.

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