The new M&F Santaland
We ventured forth yesterday for some fearless Christmas errand-running. We always head out in high spirits, and usually return pretty sour. This time, except for a speed bump out at the airport post office branch, which didn't live up to its usual high standards, we did quite well.
We even stopped downtown, and enjoyed some exquisite parking karma to offset what we experienced down there last week. After subjecting ourselves to our annual three minutes of confused, deafening, mildly pornographic purgatory in Abercrombie & Fitch -- one of our nieces is a serious A&F shopper, and we dash in and out of there as fast as it takes to buy a gift card -- we ran over to take a look at the new downtown Macy's, in the historic Meier & Frank building.
First impression: Gack! Way too bright! They didn't spare the wattage. And hey, this isn't the old Post-World War II look and feel we remember, either. What happened to men's underwear? Replaced by a Clinique counter. Hmmmmm...
Up the escalators we went, and we'd be darned, right there as you stepped off onto the third floor was the gift we needed for that someone back east. Right size and everything. We called the Mrs. on the cell and confirmed that based on what limited information we could supply on the phone, this should work. Good price, too. And then we discovered that they were knocking another 20 percent off at the register. Suddenly, we're warming to this.
We blogged here two years ago about the demise of the Santa Monorail at the old M&F, and we thought we'd check down in the basement, where Claus now hangs, to confirm that Christmas As We Knew It is now dead. But we must confess, it was a pretty nice Santa scene, despite the absence of the monorail. We saw some reference to a "Monorail Memorial" on a store map, but that sounded much too bleak, and so we purposely didn't check it out.
Santa is doing his thing down there, all right. You have to walk through the furniture department to see him, but he's got a nice spot. Tons of fine ornaments for sale, too, and there was a nice lady of a certain age polishing them up and asking us what we needed. We were standing near several racks of ornaments with names emblazoned on them. In our house, you would need an "Ella" and a "Greta." They're wising up to the former, but the latter? Not common enough in these parts. Anyway, the fact that there was an actual adult there to talk about it with impressed us.
The only serious drawback we came away with was the display of fake reindeer. They had the Original Eight, bobbing their heads above their respective names, but where the heck was Rudolph? Nowhere to be found. Must be an intellectual property thing, I figured. Macy's doesn't have to pay these people, but maybe they'll be danged if they're going to be held up by these people.
Anyway, if you're like us, having grown up marveling at the wonders of department stores like Bamberger's, Kresge's, and S. Klein on the Square, you'll feel a little pang at the loss of the atmosphere of the flagship Meier & Frank store. But hey, you've got a shopping list, and a week to go before Christmas. If you asked your grandmother, what would she say? We know what our granny, who took us to the stores more than a few times on the number 1 and 34 buses, would tell us: "Sonny, times change. It's a nice store. Stop worrying about how it used to be and get your shopping done."