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Saturday, March 27, 2010

Macy's Gets It Right With 2010 Flower Show

Yesterday morning I attended a media preview for the Macy's Flower Show which opens this Sunday, March 28th 2010.  Their theme this year, Spring is in the Air.

Entering Macy's flagship State Street store on the Randolph side, a giant colorful hot air balloon with plants spilling out of its basket and sitting atop a beautiful garden, welcomes shoppers to the show.   In addition to the balloon, there were airplanes, giant bees and kites suspended in the air throughout the store.  Besides tulips and daffodils, nothing says spring better than kites.  The spectacular mobile hanging in the Tifany room was my favorite non-plant display. (see slideshow for pictures)

This year the Macy's Flower Show felt different to me than last year's.  It is obvious that they are making a real effort to connect with the customers instead of just seducing us with pure flower beauty.   Macy's repeated these 3 central points throughout the tour:
  1. We used recycled stuff
  2. We made stuff especially for you to touch.
  3. You can do this yourself
Throughout the tour we were directed to ornaments in the garden that were either props used previously in Macy's displays like the giant birdhouse in the Walnut Room, or props made of recycled material, like the beautiful blue fountain water feature, which we were encouraged to touch.   

Throughout the store there are living walls planted with beautiful succulents including one leaned against the wall in the shoppers' reach. Normally in a department store, the only thing you ought to be touching are the products you're considering buying, but by allowing us to touch the water feature and fondle the succulents on that awesome living wall, Macy's is appealing to the customer on a whole new sensory level.  I love that.
In the China Room, we were reminded over and over "this is something you can do yourself."  One table used in a display was the table from the Macy's employee break room.  Another table snatched from their conference room.  Making the point that, with new table linens or dishes, any ole table can look beautiful.   One of my favorite display tables was not featured in the Flower Show tour but I loved it because Macy's paired "old fashion grandma" dishes with sleek modern ones for a very cool look.  How many of us have old grandma dishes at home that we wish we could use without our tables looking like old grandma tables?  The China Room was my favorite of the show.  I am always so alarmed by the big gaudy tablescapes at the Chicagoland Flower and Garden Show that I find the Macy's ones, in all their subtle beauty, refreshing.
Like last year, I was fascinated to hear the Macy's folks talk about their ongoing struggle to keep the temperature in the store right enough for the plants.  You can tell that they stress over it by the emotion with which the speak about it.  They've already got the air on and have told their staff to dress warm for work.  That they are able to keep these flowers looking beautiful for two weeks while keeping the temperature suitable for shopping and working is pretty impressive.
One thing I missed at the show were manequins used in the display gardens.  When I think department store I think manequin.  And I don't ever want to miss an opportunity to see a beautifully dressed manequin sporting a plant wig.  Hey Macy's, manequins with plant wigs! Every year!  It never gets old.

To usher in the Chicago spring this year, Macy's also donated 24 Purple Prince Crabapple trees, each weighing 450 pounds, to Chicago Department of Environment, NeighborSpace and Greencorps Chicago.  Mayor Daily was on hand to accept them.

Macy's Flower Show runs March 28-April 11 with guided tours by University of Illinois Extension Master Gardeners Thursdays through Sundays at 11am, 1pm and 2pm except Easter.  


  1. I wouldn't of minded those mannequins from last year making a return. I have to go back and get some better photos of the living wall near the fountain and of the living wall they're putting in the window.

  2. I had no idea Macy's had a garden show. I am in Macy's quite and bit in Oakbrook and have a Macy's charge, but received no notice of their downtown show!

    Thanks, I will watch for it next year.


  3. Looks like fun Gina! I love that they repurposed stuff, that the displays are touchable, and I love the granny dishes. It's great that the show provides inspiration with ideas accessible to the average person - something that seemed somewhat lacking from this year's Navy Pier show.

    I agree - bring back the mannequins!

  4. And here I was merely jealous of people that got to shop at Macy's. They do plant shows too? Life can be so unfair! The hot air balloon was fantastic.

    Christine in Alaska

  5. Maybe because I'm from Cleveland, but I had no idea Macy's does a flower show.