There are few retail spaces more iconic than Macy’s Herald Square flagship, which makes its renovation – a multimillion-dollar, four-year, top-to-bottom overhaul – like no other, as well.
The first phase of this renovation project would bring new luxury brand shops for Gucci, Burberry and Louis Vuitton to the Broadway side of the building, updated cosmetics, fragrance, handbag and jewelry departments, and a refreshed mezzanine level. Two new escalator wells bring the excitement up to the second floor where Macy’s worked with Charles Sparks & Co. (Westchester, Ill.) to create the world’s largest shoe emporium.
But why start here? Well, if you’re Terry Lundgren, ceo, chairman and president, Macy’s Inc. (Cincinnati), you start with the product category nearest and dearest to many women’s heart and soul: shoes.
“They wanted to simultaneously embrace the heritage of Macy’s, pay tribute to the building architecture and incorporate technology,” says Charles Sparks, ceo, president and corporate creative director. “But above and beyond, they also wanted to improve the customer experience.”
The renovation created 39,000 square feet of selling space and 65,000 square feet in total by relocating Macy’s women’s shoe business from the third and fourth floors to a unified second level. To improve visibility and connectivity throughout the floor, designers created four grand halls that are distinguished by product offering and design cues, such as lighting, materials, flooring and furniture. “This enables the customer to take it in one section at a time, and gives the space a sense of scale,” Sparks says.
For example, Macy’s Impulse umbrella, which includes such brands as Rachel Roy, Dolce Vita and Vince Camuto, is featured in an area called the “enclave,” with a lower ceiling height, playful materials and lower lighting levels. The palette for the better priced brands and designer shoes areas goes brighter and cleaner with lots of whites and shiny stainless steel. “These areas create a unique point of view,” says Jim Kelly, design director, SPACE, Macy’s Inc., “and align with Macy’s core principles to not only celebrate our brands but to create memorable shopping experiences.”
Sparks says open debates among all the partners involved in the project led to some new innovative display techniques, including new types of fixtures. “Everyone at Macy’s and Sparks has grown tired of the sea of nested tables,” he says. Instead, the team proposed using fixtures with varied materials, angled tops and furniture-like treatments to further define each zone. Kelly adds that unit heights were also raised, some by as much as 12 inches, to bring product closer to the customer’s view.
Another bold statement was made with clearance footwear – a product typically piled on metal racks in the middle of the aisle ways. “We decided we were going to celebrate it,” says Kelly. “Customers love the idea of a search, so we decided to make it something memorable.”
Each of the floor’s grand shoe halls houses its own clearance nook, inspired by the idea of a celebrity’s shoe closet and featuring product stacked floor to ceiling with decor themed around New York neighborhoods, complete with chandeliers and seating. “They stand out as a destination,” Sparks says.
If perusing thousands of pairs of shoes is exhausting, customers can now refresh at the second floor café nestled among luxury shoes on the Broadway side of the building. Operated by Starbucks but not branded, the space offers exotic coffees, fine chocolates and premium champagne and wine within a setting of diffused glass partitions, contemporary materials, natural lighting and views of the Empire State Building.
While Macy’s moves forward to keep this massive project on time and on budget (the men’s department is up next), there’s still time to reflect on its accomplishments along the way. “Now the largest department store in the world can boast it has the largest women’s shoe department,” Kelly says. “It’s something to be proud of.”
Retailer: Macy’s Inc., Cincinnati; Tom Herndon, senior vp, store planning and design; Jim Sloss, vp design; Ramsay Weatherford, vp store planning; James Bellante, vp visual merchandising; Ken Lay, vp design
Design Firm: Charles Sparks + Company (Westchester, Ill.); Charles Sparks, principal-in-charge; Don Stone, account executive; David Koe, vp, senior creative director; Cindy Passarelli, senior designer, director, resource studio; Dave Walker, co-account executive
Design Consultants: Lighting Workshop Inc., Brooklyn, NY
Wilsonart, Columbus, Ohio
Abet Laminati, Chicago
3Form, Salt Lake City, Utah
Evonik Cyro, Parsippany, N.J.
Innovative Stone, Hauppauge, N.Y.
Stone Source, New York
Architectural Systems Inc., New York
Jamie Beckwith Collection, Nashville, Tenn.
Stanly Fixtures, Norwood, Conn.
Megavision, Brooklyn, N.Y.
Bartco Lighting, Huntington Beach, Calif.
Axis Lighting, Montreal
Starfire Lighting, Wood-Ridge, N.J.
Electrix Inc., New Haven, Conn.
Juno Lighting Group, Des Plaines, Ill.
Bloom Lighting Group, Montreal
Architect: Highland Associates, New York
General Contractor: Structuretone, New York
Photography: Charlie Mayer, Oak Park, Ill.