Amelia James would consider it an insult to her grandmother to shop at the former Marshall Field's department store, a beloved Chicago institution renamed Macy's on Saturday to the dismay of many ardent shoppers.
The 48-year-old Chicagoan was among more than 100 people who gathered outside the landmark State Street store to protest the decision by Federated Department Stores Inc. to swap the 154-year-old Field's name for Macy's, a department store chain best known for its flagship in New York.
Old signs were gone and new signs unveiled at department stores across the country on Saturday, as Federated, which acquired iconic retailing names like Washington's Hecht's and Boston's Filene's when it bought May Department Stores last year, renamed most of the stores Macy's.
Federal says it wanted to build a national identity with bigger buying and advertising power.
For James and other protesters, ditching the Field's name is an affront to Chicago and their memories.
I owe it to the memory of my grandmother, James, who works at the nearby Art Institute, said of her vow never to shop at Macy's.
James recalled wearing white gloves and dressing up to visit the downtown Field's with her grandmother. When I came down here, it made me feel special, she said, vowing to cut up her Field's credit card.
Under an overcast sky, most protesters wore green, the color associated with Field's that was replaced by Macy's black, and carried signs with such slogans as This Lady Wants Field's and Chicago Shops Marshall Field's.
This is Chicago's history and it seems like no one cares enough to save it, said Christine Granat, 31, who vowed not to enter the store again, even to use a $100 gift certificate she received.
Macy's officials, who said they have no plans to reverse their decision, hope to lure back any unhappy shoppers.
We understand this is an emotional time and people are passionate about the name, Macy's spokeswoman Jennifer McNamara said. We hope they'll give us a chance to demonstrate that the essence of what our customers love about Marshall Field's will continue at Macy's.
Macy's will retain such Field's traditions as the Walnut Room restaurant and the famed green clocks at the building's corners. It celebrated the change with gift card giveaways and appearances by actress Joan Cusack, comedian Gilbert Gottfried and a member of the Chicago White Sox baseball team.