Thursday, September 14, 2006

The Vanillafication of America

I just got back from grabbing lunch at the local Au Bon Pain for another round of eating and blogging at my desk.

The Thai Chicken Salad is quite good. Not as good as Cosi's Shanghai Chicken Salad, but, during the renovation, a worthwhile substitute.

Anyway, I digress.

When I go outside to run a quick errand, especially on a rainy day like today, I rarely notice my surroundings. I have a "get in - get out- get on with it" mentality about a lot of things. Today, though, for some reason, I looked up, in the middle of Metro Center. And I noticed that the Hecht's is finally, incontrovertably, a Macy's.

Yes, we all knew this was coming. And yes, the inside of the store has been, more or less, a Macy's for some time. But they finally changed the signs -- or at least the awnings -- to reflect the change in ownership.

Another instance of something sort-of unique about DC becoming just like everywhere else. I've heard it referred to as "the Mallification of America."


As most frequent readers know, I spent my adolescence in Florida. One of the great things about malls in Florida was the Burdines, "the Florida store". While you could go into Burdine's and buy generic mall stuff, it was also the go-to place for tacky Floridian stuff with palm tree and/or flamingo logos. Kitsch heaven.

Burdines is now Macy's.

And let's not forget about Pittsburgh.

At my last job, I had to travel a lot, and I often got to stay in downtown Pittsburgh. One of the most interesting things about downtown was the plethora of seemingly local historic department stores that I had never seen before. Alas, Kaufmann's -- once owned by the family that hired Frank Lloyd Wright to build Fallingwater -- is also now Macy's -- as is Lazarus. If I recall correctly, they were about a block away from each other.

I'm sure at least one is now closed.

I hate the fact that everywhere I go, there's a Macy's on one corner, a Starbuck's on the other, and a McDonald's across the street. It's boring. It's depressing. It's VANILLA.

Not me. I'm a Jamoca Almond Fudge or Coffee Heath Bar Crunch kind of girl.


jason said...

I didn't think that Au Bon Pain existed outside of airports. How strange.

Justin S. said...

Took you long enough. That Hechts has been a Macy's for a good two weeks.

Justin S. said...

Not to mention, I walked by the original Marshall Fields in Chicago a couple weeks ago.... which is now Macy's.

Also, Famous Barr, a big St. Louis/Southern Illinois/Kentucky/Tennessee area store is now Macy's.

Justin S. said...

And now for my third post on the subject....

I just heard on some undisclosed place on the internet that Coffee Heath Bar Crunch was just bought out by Vanilla.

Dara said...

Jason: While ABP is an airport (and mall) staple, there are a few locations in downtown areas. One's about a block away from my office. Good salad, bread, and cookies. Bad, bad service.

Justin: It was not yet a Macy's on the Friday before labor day. I distinctly remember taking notice of the signage then.

It's sad, isn't it?

Ryane said...

Hhahahahahah--coffee heath bar crunch just bought out by Vanilla.
that's funny.

it is really sad that all of the old stores are forced to close their doors around here. I remember (fondly) Garfinckels and Woodies... sigh. I may have been only a kid, but even a kid knows where to get the good shoes--and Garfinckels was that place.

However. I will say this, Dara. I work for a real estate developer and I have been hounding the brokers to try and get a Manolo Blahnik store here in DC. At least our shoes won't be vanilla!

Bo W. said...

Goldsmith's was a Mid-South staple. Now? Macy's.

Also, there is an ABP in the Bearing POint builing in the steel jungle of Tysons. People like to go over there, try the soup, buy nothing and leave.

Dara said...

Ryane: I saw the words "Manolo Blahnik" and stopped thinking. Must. Buy. Shoes.

Bo: I think I looked for a wedding present for you at Goldsmith's. But that was a couple years ago.

Justin S. said...

Well, still, I think over a week... The Hecht's in Ballston changed over before Labor Day, I'm pretty sure. I actually saw them putting up the Macy's letters. I think they had an M and an A up. I wish I had my camera.

Dana said...

Yep, Marshall Fields in downtown Chicago is now a Macys. Lots of pissed off Chicagoans.