The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

Former L&T Exec Charged with Turning Around Macy's

By Olivia Leigh in News on Jan 5, 2007 3:30PM

After finally realizing that Chicagoans aren’t exactly taking well to their brand, Macy’s has decided to hire a “Chicago-bred retailing veteran” to to serve as vice president for the Macy’s North division of stores and manager of the iconic State Street store.

2007_01_state.jpgLinda Piepho, a Evanston Township High School grad and former Lord & Taylor exec, will be taking over the reigns for Ralph Hughes. Curiously, Hughes will be promoted to regional vice president of corporate communication for Federated, where he will represent the company “through community and government relations, community giving and supplier diversity efforts.” Call us crazy, but promoting a man to such a position when he was in charge of operations during several embarassing PR gaffes is a bit like asking Ozzie Guillen to teach sensitivity training classes.

In her new role, Piepho will be charged with increasing the sluggish sales and “luring back customers” who nixed the former Marshall Field's after the name change.

While the name change and insensitivity to the tradition of Chicago has certainly been as issue, an even more substanial issue we — and most of our friends — perceive is a decrease in the quality of product. Although Hughes was quoted in an ABC7 story saying that Macy’s has “a great selection of merchandise” and “an environment that is better than anywhere else in terms of shopping,” we’ve walked in once or twice to grab a pair of tights, when at the former Marshall Fields, we’d somehow be lured into buying a great top, fabulous shoes, and a candle in the process. And please don't get us started on our rather depressing Christmas ornament excursion.

Piepho says she “hopes to keep the legacy of the store alive,” although that seems a bit difficult to do after Federated has all but obliterated the formerly iconic brand, save some mints and a tree. It will certainly be interesting to see if, and how long, Macy’s will last in Chicago, when the current climate for even mainstay department stores downtown is anything but hopeful.

And PS, in case you were wondering, Piepho is pronounced "pea-foe." Thank you, Sun-Times, for once again providing us with the most important details!

Image from kellyhafermann.