Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Our retail habits continuously evolve – will old Carson’s become

It always amuses me whenever I think about retail practices (not that I think about them that often) to realize that one of the grand old spots of shopping in Chicago is now just another Target store.

The old nameplates remain ...
Which has me wondering with the news reports that Target may be purchased sometime this year by that behemoth of Internet shopping. As in

DOES THAT MEAN the one-time Carson Pirie Scott flagship store on State Street will essentially become a visible sign of just how much has taken over the world of retail?

The idea behind the purchase, according to the Bloomberg Business News service, is that and Target already share a common demographic in terms of people who rely on them to purchase the goods they wish to have in life. Combining could create a sizable retail combine – albeit one not quite as big as Wal-mart.

But then again, the so-called retail experts consider that to be a separate demographic of shoppers. It’s a matter of everybody will claim they control their segment of society, and don’t really care about other groups amongst us.

But to me, the idea that the grand old department store (which had operated at various sites in Chicago since 1854 and at its current State/Madison street location since 1904) continues to stand in its architectural grandeur (designed by famed architect Louis Sullivan) but without its old retail elegance is amusing.

EVERY TIME I find myself inside the old Carson’s these days, I find myself trying to find traces of the old style – only to find that I’m in a Target barely distinguishable from the Target stores one can find anywhere else in Chicago or at various suburban locations.

If this deal does go through, will that one-time Carson’s location wind up taking on the smiling logo? Will it become a place people go to if they happen to be downtown, check out the goods, then return home to place the order?
... even though the classic retail businesses are long gone from State Street
I’ve seen that kind of behavior in many a Barnes & Noble bookstore, and it is one that I personally find strange. You’d think that since they’ve already made the trip to the store, they’d just buy the item right there and then!

But this is a new age now that we’re well into the 21st Century and we now have people coming of age who weren’t even alive back on that date when the 1900s receded into the past and we moved into this era of the 2000s (is that 2-thousand or 20-hundred?).

REGARDLESS, I STILL find the old Carson’s building, along with the one-time Marshall Field’s just a couple of blocks north on State Street, to be significant landmarks.

They are points that help me personally anchor my location whenever I happen to be walking about. Yes, thinking of something as being “just a couple of blocks” from Carson’s is the way I think – even if there probably are some deluded individuals who will see the Target bullseye logo and think I’ve gone goofy.

It’s just a matter of how we think. Besides, I’m sure there will be a certain subgroup of people who have become so accustomed to the Target label on that structure that they will forever think of it that way – and will have an even younger generation think they’ve gone goofy.

“What Target? That’s!,” they’ll say.

OF COURSE, IF you want to live in the past and still shop at the Carson’s brand, you can always hit any of the many suburban locations that have kept that name – even though the flagship store did not.
A place to reminisce about Chicago of old. Photographs by Gregory Tejeda
Just as you can still walk into what is now the downtown Chicago store of Macy’s and try to pretend it is still Marshall Field’s. Particularly if you go down to the basement level and spend all your time by the Frango mints stand. That brand has managed to outlive the company that originally created it.

Although the move (which previously took over the Whole Foods brand name) toward Target does have me wondering who eventually will wind up taking over the one-time Field’s.

And if we’re ultimately moving in the direction of all types of stores becoming tied together and merged into one massive entity to be known as “The Store.”


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