Midnight move at Macy's

In a barely detectable overnight effort, Macy's at three area malls relocated to vacant former Hecht's stores.

May 02, 2006|By ANDREA K. WALKER | ANDREA K. WALKER,SUN REPORTER

After hearing people talk for several days about Macy's moving to bigger digs on the other side of Marley Station, Sandra Richardson went to the mall in Glen Burnie yesterday to see for herself what the hype was all about.

She peered through a small opening at the front of the store's new location and noted that it was bright and spacious. But it still looked like any other department store, she said.

"I came to peek in the window for myself," said Richardson, kitchen manager at a fast-food restaurant. "I was curious to see what was inside."

The Macy's at Marley Station was one of three in the area involved in a real estate game of musical chairs last weekend resulting from the merger of Federated Department Stores Inc. and May Department Stores Inc. Under the deal, the Hecht's store chain is being shut down this year to be replaced with a national Macy's nameplate.

The Hecht's at Marley Station mall, as well as those at White Marsh and Owings Mills malls in Baltimore County, were the first to close several weeks ago. In an overnight move Sunday night, Macy's moved into the old Hecht's spaces at the three malls.

Today, the three new Macy's are open for business.

The big moves, which had been anticipated by curious customers and mall employees, were virtually invisible to anyone but Macy's workers.

Paige Walker, 16, and Bryttani Dews, 17, tried to get a peek at the new Macy's yesterday but said the doors were blocked. All three Macy's were closed yesterday.

The little bit of remodeling on the outside of the Marley Station store, including a new sign, made the girls more anxious to come back when it opens.

"I think it will be much better than the old spot," Walker said.

Workers moved goods throughout Sunday night while most people were asleep. Merchandise was loaded on trucks and moved from one dock to the next.

Employees moved racks of clothes through the mall after other mall businesses were gated shut for the night, mall managers and a Macy's spokeswoman said.

"It's been a constant question for the many months, ever since the whole Federated and May acquisition became public," said Christopher Schardt, general manager at White Marsh Mall. "In the end, all customers would see probably is trucks backing up to their loading docks. The bulk of the move was done during off hours."

Lori Mullins, manager at The Bombay Company furniture store at Marley Station, said the transformation was quick. "One day the store is full," she said, "and the next day, it's empty."

The move had little impact on the malls, which will have to change their directories and store maps. Their workers have also had to field questions from customers.

"The move has been in our mind pretty seamless," said Charmaine Lawrence, general manager at Marley Station. "I'm sure it's quite intense for Macy's."

Macy's was practically clandestine about the move. There was no fancy advertising, and the company wouldn't allow reporters inside the store during the process. The company put small signs in front of its stores and sent notices to credit-card holders.

Yesterday at Marley Station, Macy's displayed 20 percent-off coupons at the mall's main information kiosk. A look through a window showed a department store that was almost completely set up, from displays of shoes to stacks of perfume boxes to prom dresses hanging from racks.

The move was so quiet that some people didn't realize it had happened. But the coverings over the doors of the old Hecht's space put in place several weeks ago were enough to whet curiosity.

"People have been asking a lot of questions," said Melissa Elliott, a manager at Kay Jewelers at Marley Station. "It's created a lot of buzz. People are curious about the whole thing."

Many people want to know about Boscov's, the Reading, Pa.-based department store chain that will move later this year into the spaces left vacant by the Macy's move. Federated moved Macy's into the more prominent former Hecht's spaces.

Some yesterday expressed a bit of nostalgia for Hecht's. "It's kind of sad remembering shopping there as a kid," said Jeanne Klingler, a school media assistant.

Others were more ambivalent about the change. "It doesn't really matter," said Mary Bohlman of Millersville. "I just usually shop where the sales are."

andrea.walker@baltsun.com

Name change

These Baltimore-area Hecht's stores have been replaced by Macy's today:

Owings Mills Mall

Marley Station

White Marsh Mall

These Baltimore-area Hecht's will make the transition to Macy's by September:

The Mall at Columbia

Towson Town Center

Annapolis Mall

Security Square Mall

Harford Mall

Laurel Center

[ Source: Federated Department Stores Inc.]

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