by Sara Paretsky
I ordered a new bed recently at Marshall Field. When it arrived, the delivery slip was marked “Macy’s,” and the box springs themselves were labeled, “Exclusive to Macy’s.” Macy’s? Macy’s? That’s a New York store. If I wanted to shop in New York, I’d go to New York. I happen to prefer Chicago. I’ve tried New York. When I was 23, I went there hoping to get a job with a publisher or magazine, but couldn’t get my foot in any of those doors; I returned to Chicago, where I became a writer. When I wrote my first novel, 37 New York publishers turned it down, saying that a book set in Chicago had regional interest only, and not enough people read in the Midwest to merit publishing a book set here. Do we illiterate Midwesterners need to give money to a New York firm?
My bank, the once-venerable First National Bank of Chicago, with its fabled art collection, now sports an ungainly Chase logo on its elegant top; Marshall Fields has disappeared, replaced by the Red Star of 34th Street; the famous clocks will carry the New York label—set, perhaps, to eastern time. All Marshall Field charge cards are being changed to Macy’s this fall.
Of course, First Chicago and Fields have long been pawns in the conglomerate game, but it’s the first time a foreign power has brazenly branded them as its own.
I thought about colonial protests of the past, starting with the famous tea party. Chicagoans, tear up your Macy’s cards and dump them in the Harbor, I started to cry, but my sons reminded me there’s too much plastic in Lake Michigan already.
Gandhi got the British out of India by means of simple boycotts. Chicagoans, there are plenty of other banks in town. Boycott Chase, the New York behemoth. Go toyour neighborhood store instead of Macy’s. Otherwise, what will become of us next—the Sox a Yankee farm team? The famous Chicago dogs relabeled “Nathan’s?” Rise up, Chicago, flex those broad shoulders and shake off the imperialist tyrant’s yoke!