This year marks the 80th anniversary of the Parkchester Macy's store following its establishment back in October 1941.
Unlike other Macy's stores across the US, the 171,000 square foot store in Parkchester is not located in a bustling downtown shopping district or a suburban shopping center but located beneath two apartment buildings.
It’s notable that Parkchester was Macy’s very first branch store, only the second location in the entire country that operated with the Macy’s name on its storefront. This was after the Macy's Herald Square in Manhattan became the flagship of the Macy's department chain.
Since 1941, Macy's Parkchester has been serving the community in Parkchester and the surrounding areas.
Last year, Macy's made the shocking announcement that one fifth of its iconic department stores will be gone within three years. CEO Jeff Gennette said Macy's will close 125 stores in struggling malls that customers are abandoning.
On top of that, the company is expected to cut an additional 2,000 jobs in the next three years, about 9 percent of its corporate and support positions. This is in addition to the 3,900 corporate and management layoffs from last summer, as stated in a news release from last June.
In 2020, they closed 29 stores (28 Macy's and one Bloomingdale's) across the country, per CNBC. But now, Macy's is forging ahead and closing 45 more stores in 2021 in hopes to try out smaller store formats and only have a presence at top-tier malls, as noted by CNBC.
The Parkchester store fortunately, was not included on the list of stores expected to be closed this year but the Macy's store at the White Plains Galleria was much less fortunate.
In regards to its Parkchester location, Orlando Veras, Macy’s Director of National Media Relations, released the following statement to Forbes:
“Macy's has been part of the Parkchester community in The Bronx since 1941. The Parkchester store marked the first successful expansion of the Macy's brand outside of the flagship store at Herald Square in Manhattan, helping to launch Macy's signature fashion, value and unparalleled customer experience to communities nationwide. A unique store at the foot of several large apartment buildings, Macy's Parkchester sits at the heart of the neighborhood. Over time we've invested in the store to maintain its appeal and focus on the newness of the products we sell and today it continues to serve local shoppers who love it for its great assortment and convenience.”
Kenneth Marshall, Head of Retail at Olshan Properties at Parkchester, submitted the following comment:
“Macy’s is an important component of the many retail offerings at Parkchester. Since the store opened here long ago, both the residents of Parkchester along with customers who live nearby have valued our ever-evolving collection of fashion, dining and other retail services. Macy’s long tenure here is emblematic of Parkchester’s vibrant collection of retail tenants which continues to meet the needs of the community.”
There are no formal celebrations currently planned for Macy’s 80th anniversary at Parkchester. COVID-19 will likely prevent any organized gathering. Perhaps the greatest celebration is acknowledging that a department store can survive and thrive for eight decades.
Macy's Parkchester store has so far managed to outlive other businesses in the Parkchester community such as American Theater, formerly Loews American, established in 1939, operated by Bow Tie Cinemas as a seven-screen multiplex until it closed in 2013 and the building where it sat went on to be converted into a Marshalls store.
With the COVID-19 still causing havoc on businesses and in the communities across the USA and the Bronx in particular, some Parkchester residents are worried that the future of the Macy's Parkchester store does not look too good.
"We absolutely consider ourselves luck at this time while this store is still open. We see major stores declaring bankruptcy. So it's important for people to have a location like this where they can go and shop," said Alizia McMyers, a Parkchester resident who has lived in the neighborhood for the past 40 years. "To Macy's management, all I can say is just stay here and be of service to the people so that they have a place to shop because there is so many stores that are closing everyday. You turn around, doors are closed and the lights are out. This community needs a place to shop. Not everything can be determined online, so it is very important for everyone that this Macys store remains open."
McMyers explained that she moved to Parkchester in the 1970s and that during that period there was no reliable mall in the Bronx and people who didn't feel like making the journey to Macy's store on 34th street and Herald Square, relied on the Parkchester Macy's for their shopping.
"They had the children's wing, children's clothes, they had a house ware section and all kinds of products. Until recently when Bay Plaza Mall came about here in the Bronx, there was no mall here at all so you didn't feel like going to 34st Macys, you could come over here and they sold everything. We didn't have Amazon back then" said McMyers.
Sharon Smith 70, another Parkchester resident for the past 30 years, said things used to be very good before the COVID-19 pandemic.
"With COVID-19, a lot of people don't have jobs, even in Macys, they cut down on jobs. They don't need them. Even the one on 34 St, it was the tourists that made it to be what it is but now it's dead because not so many tourists are coming in," Smith said.
Smith is hoping business would pick up for stores such as Macy's once the $1,400 stimulus package comes in.
"A lot of people are buying stuff online even for Macy. There are some people who are paranoid and are scared to come out of the house. They need to go for counselling because being isolated in the house all the time is not good," she said.
Despite business not being too good for most stores, Smith said Macy's store in Parkchester is the heart of the community and hoped that it would remain open for the long period.
"If it is gone then what other store do we got? New York Company is gone, all the other stores are gone. We are going to have to go to Co-op city or downtown," said Smith before Karen Wright 76, a Parkchester resident for the last 60 years, added, "I hope that the store stays there so that people can enjoy doing their shopping from there like it was back in the days when life was good."