Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Macy's At Home Again in Center City

Why aren't Philadelphians making a bigger deal about the recent opening of Macy's new housewares department in its grand Center City store? Ever since the Market Street Strawbridge's closed in 2006, downtown residents have had very few outlets to purchase the necessities of good housekeeping , like sheets, towels and blankets.

Of course you could always visit K-Mart in the Gallery, which claims to feature Martha Stewart products. More often than not, though, the thing you came to buy would not be on the shelf. Or it wouldn't exist in the size you needed. Or the design quality was so horrendous that you just couldn't make yourself buy it. The experience always made me suspect the K in K-Mart actually stood for Kaos. The alternative was to trek out to the periphery, to a Target or a BedBathAndBeyond. But the odds of finding the right thing were in those places were only marginally better.

But now my prayers have been answered in the most wonderful way. Macy's has opened a real housewares department in a closed-0ff section of the third floor, a gorgeous high-ceiling space with an intact forest of the great old Wanamaker columns. Macy's basically painted the architecture white and threw in some new lights, but that's okay. It does the soul good to be able to squeeze the down pillows (Levels, 1,2 and 3) in such a glorious room. Macy's has made the whole housewares-buying experience far more civilized by offering an excellent selection of products, neatly displayed on dark wood shelves. Besides bedding and towels, they also sell kitchen items, vacuums, luggage and fancy dishes and silverware, at prices that seem competitive with Target's. The only odd note is that they have chosen to staff this domestic paradise with teenage boys.

Otherwise it's just like being in the suburbs!


Blogger Caroline said...

Teenage boys, really? That IS odd.

I for one am very excited about this! Thanks for posting about it.

10:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I no longer have to go to the Gallery anymore for Martha Stewart, where people still don't understand that you can actually walk up the escalator.

9:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is there room for a full-sized model home, like Wanamaker's used to have?

12:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

and feeling like you are in the suburbs is good because...??

5:49 PM  
Blogger Tord said...

how is that making you feel like you are in the suburbs?

10:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good news all around, but I'd rather feel like I was at Wanamakers on Center Square than in the suburbs - please!

5:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

because the suburbs has lots of places to buy sheets and stuff..

why go to the trouble to pick at that?

3:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I guess we are not so thrilled because it took 3 years, and it is STILL not a full Macy's - no furniture, no carpets - with all that store it is still largely what L&T made of it - a women's clothing boutique and perfume store with a handful of the kind of clothes a woman buys for a man in one corner. In now way is it a replacement for Strawbridge's. much less Wanny's.

As much as we appreciate their keeping the organ, and we very much do, it would be nice to see it being made an actual flagship Macy's store.

8:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's more than L&T, at least from a men's perspective (I never shopped there). It has taken a while but II've taken a liking to shopping there. Unlike the suburban macy's of my youth, this is an old dept store and it's amazing how much the high ceilings and open space make it a more enjoyable experience. The staff is also very professional (maybe all of Macy's has changed, I don't know). While I've never had a problem, pe se, with buying MArtha Stweart at Kmart, I've always been insulted by the way KMart doesn't maintain its store at all. Like we're not worth it. There are other options for kitchen supplies (KKapers, Fante's, Kitchen Store, Williams Sonoma) but I certainly welcome another moderate option for sheets and towels. I defintiely hope they add another floor for furniture but, perhaps, unlike Strawbridge's they should be aware that city dweller's may not want the oversized suburban furniture due, if nothing else, to that fact we have smaller living spaces. I'm also waiting for Best Buy to move in across the street at 13th and market.

8:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What most impresses me is that Macy's permited the architect to uncover the south-facing widows, allowing the sun to illuminate the space. For a building with so many windows (on the fa├žade at least) and a treasure trove of subtle details that revel in natural light, it's a shame that the store's wreckovators have insisted on closing them up over the years and exercising total dominion over the illumination of wares. Hopefully the success of this space will encourage Macy's to continue restoring the building to it's former (pre-Carter Hawley) Wanamaker's glory and make full use of the details of this Burnham masterpiece.

7:45 AM  

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