Marshall Field & Company Store Sign

This sign hung on the twelve story Marshall Field & Company department store on State Street in Chicago, Illinois built in stages starting in 1902. By 1910 Marshall Field was bigger than most factories. It had more than 8,000 employees, 250,000 customers, and a million square feet of retail space.
One aspiring young entrepreneur, Marshall Field, moved to Chicago from Massachusetts in 1856 and began working his way up in the dry goods business. Partnering with different people, he was involved in several retail operations, eventually owning his own store, Marshall Field & Company, in 1881. Sensitive to gender concerns, Field realized that the majority of his customers were women and that they should be catered to differently than men. Field is reputed to have coined the phrase “Give the lady what she wants.” Between 1890 and 1940 Field, and the retail industry at large, shifted to an emphasis on service: one price (no haggling), accessible goods (not behind the counter), a tolerance for customer browsing, and easy returns. Department stores sought upper- and middle-class customers with impulse money to spend.
In 2005 the Marshall Field’s chain was purchased by Federated Department Stores, Inc. and most stores were rebranded as Macy’s in 2006.
Object Name
date made
Physical Description
metal (overall material)
overall: 18 in x 48 in x 2 1/4 in; 45.72 cm x 121.92 cm x 5.715 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Industry & Manufacturing
American Enterprise
See more items in
Work and Industry: Retail and Marketing
American Enterprise
American Enterprise
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Gift of Target Corporation

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