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Rowland H. Macy

AKA Rowland Hussey Macy

Born: 30-Aug-1822
Birthplace: Nantucket Island, MA
Died: 29-Mar-1877
Location of death: Paris, France
Cause of death: Heart Failure
Remains: Buried, Woodlawn Cemetery, Bronx, NY

Gender: Male
Religion: Quaker
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Business

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Founder of Macy's department stores

His father was a shopkeeper in Nantucket, but Rowland H. Macy left home at the age of 15 to sail the Atlantic with whale hunters. Returning to Massachusetts four years later, he worked for several years in his father's shop before opening his own needle-and-thread store in Boston in 1844, but it was soon bankrupt. Macy began selling dry goods in 1846, but this store also failed. He briefly worked in his brother-in-law's Boston shop, then fled to California in the 1849 gold rush. Finding no wealth out west, he returned to Massachusetts and opened a dry goods store in Haverhill, Massachusetts in 1851, in partnership with his brother. This store was a modest success, but in 1858 Macy left Haverhill and opened a small store of his own in a low-rent neighborhood in New York City.

In New York, Macy found major success. His store became known for its then-innovative policy of clearly marking prices (instead of haggling with customers), and advertising those prices in lively newspaper ads. He employed the first in-store Santa Claus, and had a major hand in recreating Christmas in America as a retail as much as a religious event. Shrewd with public relations, Macy made sure reporters knew when he promoted a saleswoman, Margaret Getchell, to store manager in 1866, making her the first woman to hold an executive post with a major American retailer. The red star in the Macy's logo was Mr Macy's idea, inspired by a red-star tattoo on his forearm from his whaling days. By the time of his death in 1877, Macy's store had grown to a tangle of eleven connected buildings on New York's 13th and 14th Streets.

Father: John Macy (shopkeeper)
Mother: Elizabeth Myrick Barnard Macy (m. 1808)
Brother: Robert B. Macy (shopkeeper)
Wife: Louisa Houghton (b. 1820, m. 1844, d. 1888)
Son: Rowland H. Macy Jr. (b. 1847)
Daughter: Florence Macy (b. 1853)

    Macy's Founder & CEO (1858-77)


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