Note to the bonehead who complained to the EPA about the smell of the Blommer Chocolate Factory:
Thanks. You’re an idiot.

It's Just A Name

Business Comments Off
Sep 292005


People are resistant to change. And people in Chicago seem to be especially resistant to change.
With all the hand-wringing surrounding Marshall Field’s name change to Macy’s, you would think someone was suggesting painting the Water Tower blue, moving the U505 Submarine to Schaumburg, or opening a McDonald’s at the Field Museum.
Oh.
Well, you get my point.
Petitions have been started, web sites overflow with sentimentality about how Field’s = Chicago and Macy’s = New York, and what’s next? Steinbrenner’s buying the Cubs? Oh, why oh why does this have to happen to us?
I’ll tell you why: it’s business. The reality is that Marshall Field’s stopped being a Chicago institution when it was sold to a British firm in the early 1980s. In fact, at that time the name changed when they dropped the “and Company,” and nobody said a word. It was then bought by the company that owned Target (who eventually spun Field’s and its other department stores off because they weren’t doing as well as Target). Changing hands again, it wound up in the lap of the people who want to make Macy’s a national brand name.
And that’s…… bad?
Everyone who has memories of Field’s always points to the same things: the State Street store, the Christmas windows, lunch in the Walnut Room under the big tree. It’s not about the merchandise or the service at the store, it’s the fact that State and Washington is a destination. I’ve yet to hear a single complaint about the Marshall Field’s at Old Orchard changing its name. (“Oh, Sylvia, remember those pumps I bought for the New Year’s party in 1975? What am I going to do now that it’s Macy’s for cryin’ out loud?”)
Hence, my proposal to all the lamenters out there: go out and assemble the brightest among you, come up with a business plan, find some venture capitalists, and buy the State Street store and the Marshall Field’s name. Then you run the store and tell us how easy it is to survive in a retail environment where people will come and browse but then drive out to the suburbs to go to Kohl’s and Old Navy to buy things.
(Interestingly enough, this is what some people did in the mid-1980s with the Frederick & Nelson store in Seattle. They failed after six years.)
(Also, to continue parenthetically, Frederick & Nelson were the inventors of Frango Mints– Field’s got them because they bought Frederick & Nelson, so Frangos are a Seattle tradition, not Chicago.)
Field’s new owners have committed to keeping the Clock, the windows, the tree in the Walnut Room, and all the other things the weepy hundreds say they’ll miss. I even heard they’re going to leave the “Marshall Field & Co.” nameplate on the building.
So what’s the real complaint? Have any of these people actually stepped into a Marshall Field’s recently and purchased something they couldn’t get at Carson’s, Nordstrom’s, J.C. Penney, or Lord & Taylor?
Now, there are weblogs and newspaper columns with lists naming all the Chicago businesses that went under in the last 50 years. These lists are fascinating and real memory-joggers, but what gets me is the fact that some people are using these lists as illustrations of why the Field’s name shouldn’t be changed. The truth is that stores like Montgomery Ward and Lytton’s are gone because of a changing marketplace, bad management, a tough economy, customer demand, and/or technology. And let’s not leave out the desire of one company’s management deciding to cash in on their investment by selling out to a larger company.
I am as nostalgic as the next guy– in fact I would say moreso than the next guy– but nostalgia has its place: in your memory. Let’s allow the businesses of today succeed today, and on today’s terms.
Good luck, Macy’s.

From a BBC report:

It has even been estimated that one in 10 Europeans are conceived in an Ikea bed.

Another spot in my brain has been filled with useless information. I used to work with a guy who said the spot in his brain where the cure for cancer belongs is now occupied by the knowledge that John Madden is afraid to fly. Who knows what boon to humanity has been shoved aside because of this Ikea factoid.

Disobedience

Business Comments Off
Sep 192004

Someone just had to come up with an answer to the monster truck thing that was all over the internet the other day.

J.P. Morgan Chase decided they’d rather do it themselves. Good for them.

Sep 152004

I can’t wait for the day when I have one of these things driving next to me on my way to the Jewel.
I’ve already been flipped off by a soccer mom in a Hummer. Now I have something new for the list.

Our governor is talking about allowing soft drink companies to bid for the title “Official Beverage of Illinois.” Here’s an article about it.
This seems an astonishingly stupid idea on a number of levels.
Both Coca-Cola and Pepsi have huge bottling operations headquartered here, and this seems like a good way to give one of these guys an incentive to leave. (And considering 99% of the public-area vending machines in Illinois seem to be red, white, and blue, I’ll bet eighty cents in exact change that I know who’s gonna get the title.)
I am sure someone is going to protest this because it implies that the state is promoting people destroying their teeth, bones, and bathroom scales by ingesting fizzy, sugared, brown water. Unless somehow the state beverage is skim milk, perhaps– but then there’s a whole anti-lactose crowd waiting for their moment to strike.
I’d consider starting a grass-roots movement to make water the state drink of Illinois. The problem is there ain’t no money in that, and we are rapidly learning that Mr. Blagojevich is all about the money.
I was a little surprised to learn that Illinois is not the first to consider this. New York’s official drink is Snapple, San Diego’s is Pepsi, and Houston’s is Dr. Pepper. Other states have official snacks, too.
So why stop at Official Soft Drink? What about the Official Frozen Pizza (Home Run Inn gets my vote), Official Hot Dog (Double Char Cheddar Dog with Everything and extra Sport Peppers at Gold Coast Dogs), and Official Thing To Order at Starbucks (Grande Soy No-Whip Mocha)?
Oh well, at least I know which soda my mom will vote for.
This “everything’s for sale” mindset made me think of the Cake song on the next page.

Continue reading »

Oh, this looks like it could be interesting: outsourcing order-taking at McDonald’s drive-up window.
A few things concern me here, not the least of which is this business with the photos. Imagine you’ve gone for your third Big ‘n’ Nasty this week, which would fill the average McD’s diner with enough guilt and self-loathing, and now you know they can put a series of photos together as you dine day after day. That would be enough to make me stop going to McD’s altogether (not a bad thing, actually).
(Sure.. they “destroy the photos”– just like the guys in photo labs don’t keep copies of the pictures they develop that they want to, uh, view again.)
Taking this to the next level, I wonder if McDonald’s will have people thousands of miles away taking orders, in their effort “To Built The Good Customer Relationship.”
I’m all for doing things cheaper and faster, but this seems somewhat flawed.

Jul 212004

This week’s Newsweek has a cover story on the iPod.
Call me cynical, but it’s pretty much a fluff piece.
Don’t get me wrong: I like my iPod a lot. I’ve used it more in the few months I’ve owned it than I used the various Walkmen I’ve had over the years. It’s a lot more convenient than carrying CDs or cassettes around, and the fact that it holds 15 GB vs. 288 MB on my old Rio One means I don’t have to keep reloading the thing. I would go so far as to say it changed the way I listen to music, and I agree that it’s had a similar impact on those who use them.
The article in question, though, is ‘way too gushy and proof that the guy who wrote it was sucked deeply into the Reality Distortion Zone. You can draw your own opinion.

Jun 112004

Still think Microsoft isn’t bent on world domination?
How about their recent patent for double-clicking?
Or maybe the fact that they just patented “To Do” lists?
Of course there are contexts for these patents, but it sure seems to me that they’re setting the stage for making a whole lotta money through the courts.
Oh, and one more thing. Check out this quote from Steve at the All Things Digital conference, which sums up the guy’s attitude perfectly (from WSJ):

Apple recently renewed deals with major record labels to continue selling songs for 99 cents each, Mr. Jobs said. Some labels have recently discussed raising the price of legal downloads. But he resisted suggestions that Apple allow iPod users to play songs recorded in other digital-music formats, such as those from Microsoft. “We feel we can innovate much more if we control the technology,” he said.

Have we been here before? “…we control the technology?” I have a half-dozen NeXTStation2s in a closet here if anyone is interested.
Not to be outdone, Bill shot back with this:

Mr. Gates, meanwhile, said Microsoft’s forthcoming music-download service would challenge Apple by permitting the music to be played on a variety of players. Mr. Gates said Microsoft’s partners will create devices better than the iPod. “Imagine it’s possible to do better” than Apple, he said.

Oh, snipe-snipe-snipe. Can’t you kids just get along?

© 2019 Crosswalks to Nowhere Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha