What does Macy’s have to do with Idaho baked potatoes?
Have you ever wondered about the Idaho baked potato? Well, it was R.H. Macy who first introduced it in his store. But, let’s go back a bit, all the way to 1858.
R.H. Macy opened his first upscale dry goods store in 1858 0n the corner of 14th Street and 6th Avenue in New York City. It was a slow start, with first-day sales totaling $11.06. By the end of his first full year, however, Macy’s could boast gross sales of $85,000. Over the years, Macy has become one of the world’s largest retailers.
An innovator at heart, Macy had quite an impact on the retail world. For example, he was the first retailer to promote a woman, Margaret Getchell, to an executive position. He started the practice of advertising product prices in the newspapers. Using his creativity, Macy was the first to introduce Idaho baked potatoes, tea bags and coloured bath towels. And, he was the first to hold a New York liqour licence. How about that!
In 1862, Macy’s was the first to present a Santa Claus during the Christmas season and in 1864, the store began featuring illuminated window displays which attracted much attention from passers-by, hence the idea of “window shopping.”
In 1877, R.H. Macy died and in 1895 ownership of the store passed to Isidor and Nathan Straus. The Straus brothers and their father had been leasing the basement of the store in 1874 and established a famous china department there.
In 1902, Macy’s moved uptown to the Herald Square flagship building at 34th Street and Broadway. It had 33 elevators and, for the first time in any American store, four wooden escalators.
In 1924, Macy’s immigrant employees started the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade (originally called the Macy’s Christmas Parade), to celebrate their new American heritage. With the store’s 7th Avenue expansion completed that year, Macy’s Herald Square became the World’s Largest Store. As a note, in 2015 Macy’s unveiled its expanded Herald Square location to 1.1 million square feet of retail space.
Macy’s launched the annual “Macy’s Fireworks Spectacular,” in 1976. Still enjoyed by millions today, it is the largest fireworks spectacle in the country and a nationally televised 4th of July tradition.
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