Hecht's to Macy's switch to begin

Conversion starts at 3 stores Sunday

April 28, 2006|By ANDREA K. WALKER | ANDREA K. WALKER,SUN REPORTER

Three area Macy's stores will close Sunday night and begin moving into former Hecht's stores for reopening Tuesday as the next step by Federated Department Stores Inc. in the transformation of its regional chains into one national brand.

The doors were closed tight yesterday at the former Hecht's stores at White Marsh and Owings Mills malls in Baltimore County and at Marley Station in Anne Arundel County. The big move will start after those malls close Sunday evening.

Dozens of employees will work through the night to "walk" merchandise from Macy's to the former Hecht's, said Elina Kazan, director of publicity for Macy's East division. The stores will remain closed Monday as workers continue the transition.

"This is going to be one Herculean task for us," Kazan said.

Federated, which acquired May Department Stores Inc. last year for nearly $12 billion, is in the process of creating a nationally recognized department store chain under the Macy's nameplate. Federated is converting regional department stores across the country - including Hecht's, Filene's, Famous-Barr, Strawbridge's and Kauffman's - and replacing them with Macy's.

On Sept. 9, Federated will celebrate the conversion of all its regional chains.

Other Hecht's stores in the Mid-Atlantic region, including those at Security Square Mall, Towson Town Center and The Mall at Columbia, will be converted to Macy's before then.

Federated is in the midst of closing 68 stores in malls where department stores owned by it and May overlapped. At White Marsh, Owings Mills and Marley Station, Federated decided to move Macy's into the more prominent, former Hecht's spaces.

Boscov's Department Stores, a Reading, Pa.--based chain, will move into the old Macy's spaces and plans to open for business by the winter holidays.

Federated began having clearance sales at the Hecht's stores this month to clear out merchandise.

This week, employees began putting new merchandise in the stores. Macy's signs, with the signature star emblem, could be seen hanging throughout the stores.

"We're bringing you a great new place to shop," said signs on the front doors of the old Hecht's locations. "We can't wait to welcome you when we re-open this location as Macy's May 2."

Kazan said the stores won't be completely converted when they re-open Tuesday, but they will be close.

"When the customer comes in on Tuesday, we want them to see as much of a Macy's store as possible," Kazan said.

Yesterday, employees scurried around inside the former Hecht's stores unpacking boxes of perfume, setting up shoe displays and dressing mannequins. Macy's nameplates had been erected outside each store, although they were obstructed by temporary plastic Hecht's signs.

Shoppers said yesterday they had mixed feelings about the change.

Brenda Dailey said she doesn't really shop Hecht's or Macy's. She prefers J.C. Penney, or her teen-age kids drag her to Aeropostale or Hollister.

"If you take any of those stores away, we're in trouble," she said.

Toni Rehrig, 61, said she'll shop Macy's once Hecht's closes. Yesterday, she got a pair of pants at Macy's at steep discount. But she also feels a little nostalgic about Hecht's.

"I love Hecht's because that's where I shopped almost since I was born," said Rehrig, a retired school instructional aide from Joppatowne. "I'm sad to see it go."

andrea.walker@baltsun.com

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