Walden Galleria is scheduled to unveil a sweeping overhaul of its Macy’s store today, driven in large part by the demand from Canadian shoppers.
The new look and configuration, with its emphasis on wider selections and designer brands, reflect just how strongly Macy’s is supported by Canadian customers.
“Macy’s has a huge Canadian following,” said Sarah Graf, marketing director at Walden Galleria. “Canadians love Macy’s.”
According to research from Longwoods International, 45 percent of Canadians who visited Western New York in 2012 ventured to the Walden Galleria to shop.
“We’re proud to be a destination for Canadian shoppers,” said Roseann Gambino, the store’s manager.
The influx of Canadian dollars has helped make the Galleria Macy’s, which is the region’s flagship store, the fastest growing store in upstate New York and number one in sales volume in Western New York.
Using a company-wide strategy called My Macy’s, the management team at the store was able to gather customer feedback and tailor the store’s merchandising to customer preferences.
Canadians and Americans alike asked for a bigger store, and they got it.
Macy’s has bumped out its footprint to a 15,000-square-foot space near the escalators on the first floor. The space was mostly used for storage or as a seasonal Christmas shop and housed Kaufmann’s furniture department until 2006 when Macy’s took over. It’s now home to Macy’s Kids, which sells children’s clothing from size infant to girls’ size 16 and boys’ size 20 under such brands as Levi’s, Hello Kitty and Tommy Hilfiger.
Moving the children’s department gave it room to expand and reconfigure the rest of the store.
The second-floor entrance now opens into an Origins skin care shop-within-a-store concept, set apart by its lighter wood display cases and a different-color floor tile.
Macy’s Impulse makeup area, set apart by black-lacquered “try me” displays, has added popular name-brand cosmetic lines Philosophy, Smashbox, Too Faced and Urban Decay.
“Our customer likes fashion,” Gambino said. “Our Canadian customers are looking for name-brand merchandise.”
Some of the biggest names – Calvin Klein, Michael Kors, Guess – got more room for expanded collection offerings and funkier merchandising.
The women’s shoe department has doubled in size, with expanded offerings from designers such as Michael Kors and Steve Madden. The purse department has grown, too, with more room for designer bags from Coach and Michael Kors.
The Junior’s department has added two new designer labels, Teen Vogue and Marilyn Monroe.
On the first floor, the Men’s department has grown, along with an expanded selection from brand-name success Ralph Lauren. The luggage department has doubled as well, owing to the store’s proximity to the Buffalo Niagara International Airport.
The Women’s department, which sells plus-sized clothing, has been pulled together into one section, rather than having separate items scattered throughout the store. It also has an expanded offering of Ralph Lauren.
“Our customers wanted all of their clothing – bathing suits, coats, pajamas – all in one place,” Gambino said of the store’s changes. “So we brought that special size together in one ‘store.’ ”
The popular shop-within-a-store concept employed in the Macy’s makeover was a key tenet of JCPenney’s massive overhaul.
Penney’s has focused on grouping different brands into luxe, in-store, mini-boutiques. The struggling retailer carved out spaces for a Sephora cosmetics store and showcased clothing from brands such as Joe Fresh and Liz Claiborne in featured groupings.
That Macy’s could succeed with something that flopped so infamously for Penney’s is an ironic illustration of how Penney’s loss continues to be Macy’s gain.
The two department stores have been slugging it out for nearly a century, but due to a disastrous decision by ousted Penney’s chief executive officer Ron Johnson to do away with the store’s beloved couponing program, Macy’s has gotten a leg up and used it to take off running.
Nationally, Penney’s reported an even bigger than expected 16 percent loss in revenue for the first quarter – its fifth straight quarter of large declines.
At the same time, Macy’s posted a 20 percent increase.
Though analysts have been foretelling Penney’s doom nationally, things are looking up for it locally.
“JCPenney has done some amazing departments,” said Russ Fulton, general manager at Eastern Hills Mall. “It’s stunning.”
Shoppers here said JCPenney might offer the best of both worlds now that it has revamped and remodeled while also reinstating its coupons and sales.
“It seemed like when they changed their marketing, the quality of their clothes got better,” said Lynn Mariani of West Seneca.