To backtrack, I decided to go shopping today. Since I was across the street looking at outdoor pillows at World Market, I decided to hit Northbrook Court as opposed to driving another ten miles to Bloomingdale’s at Old Orchard.
Normally, I don’t need to buy clothes at this time of year because I’ll have been to Atlanta on tour. Years ago, I discovered the Macy’s at Lennox Square Mall and I was thrilled to find that instead of relegating the Plus department to a shameful little cubbyhole past the restrooms and through the employee break room, they actually devote an entire third of their retail space to Plus. And not just shapeless, elastic waist, senior-citizen-appropriate styles, either. I’m talking adorable, well-fitting, fashion forward pieces.
My point is that I’ve been a big fan of Macy’s for many years and I buy so much in Atlanta that I’m usually set for the better part of the year. Except I couldn’t get there a few weeks ago due to my flight arrangements, hence today’s expedition.
Because the Plus departments are always described cryptically on the store’s directory (e.g Salon Z) (what does that stand for? Salon Zaftig?), I wasn’t surprised that I didn’t see it listed. So I wandered around the second floor for a while until I found a sales associate and here’s the conversation we had:
Me: “Hi, I can’t seem to find the Plus department.”
Snotty Eastern European Sales Associate: (with great disdain) “There is no Plus.”
Me: “I’m sorry?”
SEESA: “No Plus. Macy’s don’t carry Plus no more, not since last year.”
Me: “Wait, there are no extended sizes anywhere?”
SEESA: (completely dismissing me) “No. Nowhere.”
So I walked away, stunned. How could the entire Plus department be gone across the country?
Did America suddenly stop getting fatter?
Because I did not get the memo.
A few angry tweets later, I found that not all Macy’s have shuttered their Plus departments and some of them (likely Atlanta) are doing a booming business. Yet instead of the snotty Eastern European sales clerk a) directing me to other Macy’s stores, b) mentioning their online selection, or, c) not looking at me as though I were defective - or perhaps an Orca demanding a bucket of squid - she simply could not be bothered.
Let’s just say this did not make me happy.
Now I understand that the Plus department is almost always a bit of an afterthought and the best stuff is generally online. I get that in this economy, retailers are struggling and they’re trying to maximize profits and from a pure dollars-to-dollars standpoint, the Northbrook Macy’s Plus department likely had the lowest margins, ergo, it had to go. (FYI, I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt that this wasn’t, um, demographically motivated.)
But here’s the thing that incenses me – we fat chicks don’t exist in a bubble. We don’t walk into Macy’s (or wheel in via electric scooter) to buy our one new muumuu for the decade before slouching off to the food court to eat our feelings.
We’re good customers.
We have buying power.
Most of us (in addition to being big fat fatties) are wives or moms or aunts or grandmothers or sisters or friends or all of the above. Not only do we like to buy pants that fit, we also shop for shoes and purses and lipstick and perfume and jewelry. We purchase sheets and fancy towels and sectional sofas. We come to Macy’s to pick out our china patterns and to load up our kids back on school clothes.
We’re more than just some big girl who picks up the occasional pair of stretchy pants.
So, Macy’s, it really so fucking hard to have a couple of racks of sweaters and a few dresses accommodate us?
Is it so mission critical to alienate us?
I liken the Plus department to offering a beef option at a fish joint. Like, yeah, fish is our wheelhouse and profit center, but let’s allow the carnivores a choice, too, so we don’t lose the whole dinner party.
By closing the Plus department at Northbrook, that tells me that Macy’s thinks anyone my size is too low rent for them to even try to bother to keep my business. That smacks of arrogance and short sightedness. “Sorry, fatty, but we don’t need your kind here.”
Here’s the thing - Macy’s has the right to operate exactly as they see fit. That’s their right and their choice.
Yet I also have rights and choices.
I have the right to be any goddamn size I want and I have the choice to vote with my pocketbook.
So since Macy’s decided they don’t want my business at one of their stores, they don’t get it at ANY of their stores.
Fuck you, Macy’s.
Nordstrom will be happy to take my money... even if it is covered in cupcake crumbs.
[JEN'S 2015 EDIT - I HAVE NOT GIVEN MACY'S A SINGLE DOLLAR SINCE THEN.]