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Macy's Double Store Dilemma, Part Two

By Eric Richardson
Published: Thursday, September 21, 2006, at 04:36PM
Former Bullock's Space at 7+Fig Eric Richardson [Flickr]

When Macy's flipped the switch last week and changed all its Robinsons-May stores to the Macy's name it found itself in a situation Downtown that it's been in once before. For the second time in a decade Macy's has stores in both the 7+Fig marketplace (7th & Figueroa) and Macy's Plaza (7th & Flower). They've announced no plans for what they intend to do with the two stores; all we know so far is that neither got closed in the just passed round of cuts.

As recently as the late 1980s Downtown had four large department stores: Robinson's, Bullock's, Broadway and May Co. By this point they had moved away from Broadway and were all on 7th between the 110 and Grand.

Then came the mergers, a trend that's continued into last year's purchase of Robinson's May by Federated, Macy's corporate parent. And somehow in the course of a decade Macy's ended up with double stores, twice...

The Downtown department stores of the late 1980s were much smaller than the glory days mid-century. Both Bullock's and May Co. moved their Downtown locations to the "Seventh Market Place" (now 7+Fig) when it opened in 1986. The new stores were in the 125,000 to 200,000 sq. ft. range, far smaller than the old million sq. ft. buildings they had once occupied.

In 1988 Federated, Macy's parent company, bought Bullock's. They left the name, though, and Downtown's retail landscape didn't change all too much.

In 1992 Robinson's and May Co. merged to become Robinsons-May. Soon after the Robinson's store at 600 W. 7th closed, leaving the Robinsons-May at 7+Fig.

In 1993 Macy's was going through tough times and announced plans to close the Bullock's store at 7+Fig. They were dissuaded, though, after an intense lobbying campaign by Mayor Bradley, the CRA and the owners of the complex. Downtown kept its three department stores.

Then in 1995 Federated bought Broadway and decided to rename everything to the Macy's brand (with some Bloomingdale's thrown in for good measure). The 7+Fig Bullock's never made the switch. Instead it was closed in March of 1997, months after the Broadway at 7th/Flower changed over to Macy's.

So while this is indeed the first time there have been two Macy's nameplates in Downtown LA, it's not the first time Macy's has owned two stores just one block from each other. What they'll do this time remains to be seen.

The photo above is of the former Bullock's space in 7+Fig.

Dates are from various LA Times articles.

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