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How Not to Shop in the World's Largest Department Store

I decided to finish most all of my shopping for the holidays at Macy's in Herald Square. My logic was that I would probably find all the items on my list in this one enormous department store. Turns out I was right, and after a couple of hours, I happily left the store with my Macy's shopping bags and then headed to the nearby subway station. Once in the train car, I found an available seat amidst many other New Yorkers with their own Macy's bags.

Shopping at Macy's the week before Christmas seems insane to some people, because the store is generally crowded with holiday shoppers. This wasn't the case when I visited, but I hesitate to offer this one anecdotal observation as a sign of the recession. It could be the case. Nevertheless, shoppers tended to gravitate toward the sale items, and there were many bargains. As my taste in clothes, housewares, art and cosmetics tends to fall into the category of "too expensive," I try to buy just a few high-quality things as opposed to lots of cheap things. But, you gotta love it when cashmere sweaters are on sale.

Macy's certainly stocks a lot of stuff, and I'm very glad I knew the parameters of the stuff I wanted. I would cite the items on the list, but my loved ones may be reading. Because of the store's vastness, the way not to shop at Macy's is to walk in with vague ideas. Sometimes, it's fun to browse a store, wander around and be inspired by items that suggest appropriate recipients. This casual browsing, best suited for smaller shops, would work at Macy's only if the shopper committed to wandering in the store all day.

While I was in Macy's, I noticed that the bar in the cellar was fairly crowded, especially for an early afternoon. I did not even know there was a bar in the basement. I went down there to shop in the food gift section for New York-themed food items, of which there were many choices, as well as to stand in line for gift-wrapping. While I didn't have to wait long at all to make my purchases on other floors, I decided the gift-wrapping line was too busy. People may not be spending as much money this year as last year on gifts, but it looks like they still place value in getting someone else to wrap them.

Image by Walking Off the Big Apple. I took the picture from the mezzanine, near the Metropolitan Museum of Art gift shop that's within Macy's. I bought a couple of nice things at the Met shop as well as renewed my museum membership.









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