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Macy's (U.S.)

Last modified: 2018-12-27 by rick wyatt
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[Macy's flag]
image by Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 28 May 2014
[Macy's flag]
image by Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 28 May 2014

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Originally known as R.H. Macy & Co, Macy's is today one of the largest retail department stores in the United States with over 800 locations. Macy's was founded by Rowland Hussey Macy in 1851. He opened a retail dry goods store in downtown Haverhill, Massachusetts, to serve the mill industry employees of the area. He made four attempts to establish a successful store between 1843 and 1855, but they all eventually failed. Macy then moved to New York City in 1858 and established a new store called "R.H Macy Dry Goods" at Sixth Avenue on the corner of 14th Street. His first days take was $11.08. His store, however, was a success this time.

In 1902, Macy's opened the famous Macy's Herald Square department store in Manhattan (New York City) which became the world's largest department store until 2009. The store has stood at the site for 112 years, and was added to the National Register of Historic Places as a National Historic Landmark in 1978.

The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade has been an American national tradition since 1924. One of the oldest Thanksgiving parades in the United States, it has been televised nationally on NBC since 1952.

In 1994, R. H. Macy and Company merged with Federated Department Stores. Over the next few years it merged with other stores across the U.S. and consolidated all under the Macy's name. By 1996, the brand name included a whole slue of regional department stores including Bloomingdales, Stern's, Bullock's, I. Magnin, Mays, Davison-Paxon, Allied Stores, O'Connor Moffat & Company, Shillito's, Goldsmith's, and William H. Block Company, to name a few, renaming them all simply "Macy's."

The Macy's flag is a red five-pointed star on a white field. The Macy's logo has always included a red star which had its beginnings from a tattoo that Macy got as a fifteen year old teenager working on a Nantucket whaling ship named the Emily Morgan. (The 115 foot Emily Morgan was a ship-rigged bark that was eventually lost in the infamous Whaling Disaster of 1871 off the northern Alaskan coast when a fleet of 33 American whaling ships were trapped in the Arctic ice). For some reason Macy had a red star tattooed on his hand and it has been a Macy's symbol ever since. (Note: Macy's use of the red star pre-dates its use by the Communists. Remember also that the five-pointed red star has also been used by the State of California, Heineken, Mozilla, and others, and like Macy's is without any socialist connotation.)

"Macy's Inc"
"Macy's Department Store"
"Littlie Known Facts and History of Macy's One of the Longest Running Parades in History"
"The Lost Whaling Fleet: Emily Morgan"

Pete Loeser, 28 May 2014

I live in Long Island, New York and last week I visited a whaling museum here with my father ... the rotating exhibit at the museum was about tattoos and sailors role in popularizing them and bringing them back to American shores. One of the things at the exhibit was about how R.H. Macy had gotten his red star tattoo while working as a sailor (15 years of age) ... and that the tattoo eventually inspired the famous R.H. Macy Dry Goods logo (the red star is still used for Macy Department stores today).

It is is claimed by some that R.H. Macy selected to have the star as his tattoo as a symbol of the star that guided them at sea when they were lost. Macy's father had also been a whaler when young... and ran a dry goods store as an adult. The original logo Macy used before opening the Manhattan store was a rooster ... it was replaced in approx 1862 with the red star (the Manhattan store had already been in operation a few years by then). 1862 is also the first year a store Santa was used at MACY's ... making a major impact on how marketing to children would be done in the industry for decades to come.

The red star tattoo was around 1837 and the red star did not become a symbol of communism until 1917 long after Macy used it as the logo of his stores (1862).

Joanne J, 12 July 2015

I've so far been unable to find a single photograph of this flag on the net. What people seem to believe the flag looks like is: Red with a white star. It seems to be the more popular bag design, and it also how the illustration to this Robin Report pictures it.

In parades, like here, though, the twirling flags are definitely red with a star that touch the inner three sides.
Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg
, 29 May 2014

 [Macy's flag] image by Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 29 May 2014