By CARLA K. JOHNSON
The Associated Press
CHICAGO — Protesters marched, carried signs and called for a boycott Saturday because their beloved Marshall Field's, a shoppers' magnet on State Street for more than 100 years, had been replaced by a New York icon: Macy's.
Signs with phrases like "Hell No. Not My Dough" and "Macy's Is Just Wal-Mart with Pretension" were carried by demonstrators, who also toted signature green Field's shopping bags.
The store is one of about 400 properties nationwide being converted to the Macy's nameplate by Federated Department Stores, which acquired the properties when it bought May Department Stores last year.
But unlike most of them, the big Marshall Field's store had amassed generations worth of loyalty.
Amelia James said she treasures childhood memories of dressing up in white gloves to have lunch in the store's Walnut Room with her grandmother Grace Denny Elder. She said she was going to cut up her Field's credit card and boycott Macy's.
"My grandmother was born in 1898. She shopped here her whole life," said James, 48, of Chicago. "There were six kids in our family. We didn't have a lot of money, but when she brought us here to Marshall Field's, it was one of the most special things."
The store was built in stages from 1892 to 1914. Its name came from retailer Marshall Field, who got his start as a salesman in a Chicago dry-goods store in 1852.
James was one of roughly 100 demonstrators who objected to the name change Saturday.
At the same time, hundreds of shoppers started lining up two hours before the doors opened. Once inside, they listened to a jazz quintet as they used $10 Macy's gift cards handed out to the first arrivals. Workers in Macy's T-shirts offered silver trays of doughnut holes and coffee in glass cups.
"Things change," said Chicagoan Mary Peterson, 64, the first person in line before the store opened. Peterson worked for 18 years at Field's, packing the store's popular Frango mints into boxes as they came off the conveyor belt in the candy kitchen. She said she welcomes Macy's.
Macy's officials, who said they have no plans to reverse their decision, hope to lure back any unhappy shoppers.
"We understand this is an emotional time and people are passionate about the name," Macy's spokeswoman Jennifer McNamara said. "We hope they'll give us a chance to demonstrate that the essence of what our customers love about Marshall Field's will continue at Macy's."
Macy's will retain such traditions as the Walnut Room restaurant and the green clocks at the building's corners.
Federated, based in Cincinnati, became the nation's largest department-store retailer when it bought May. The switch to the Macy's nameplate will give Federated a total of more than 800 Macy's stores in 45 states, the District of Columbia, Guam and Puerto Rico.