Saturday, March 05, 2005

The Times Names They Are A-Changin'

I woke up on Tuesday morning to find that, with the new month, the AT&T Wireless name on my cell phone screen was virtually no more, as it had changed to Cingular on a full-time basis (it had occasionally done that in very limited areas--ones in which I'd previously had no service at all, so that's a good sign if the new network is more far-reaching than the old). With SBC's acquisition of the rest of AT&T, it's possible that the venerable old name will be gone for good before too long, although those in the know have predicted that the combined company may well keep the old name because of its longstanding value as a brand.

And it was also announced this week that Federated Department Stores has purchased the May Company, parent of the Texas icon Foley's, and plans to rebrand most of its stores under the Macy's name sometime next year. Though native Dallasites have already dealt with a name change in this store (when the Houston-based Foley's name usurped that of the local Sanger-Harris in the '80s), it will be a big change for anyone who's spent considerable time in Houston to no longer have Foley's around. Though they dropped their sponsorship of this even a long time ago, I'll always remember going to, and eventually marching in, the Foley's Thanksgiving Day Parade in downtown Houston, which always ended with the arrival of Santa in his sleigh, atop a tall float which allowed him to climb through a special door into one of the upper floors of Foley's Downtown. I don't recall how many stories tall it was (is?), but it was more that two, so a trip down there was the closest we got to visiting those huge New York department stores we always saw on the movies and TV. When I got a Foley's card in grad school (before I figured out that credit cards are mostly evil), I really thought I'd "made it." I didn't really shop there all that much, but it was nice to know it was there, and the loss of the local brand name is just one more step towards the homogenization of American business.

(UPDATE: It appears that Lileks shops at department stores even less than I do, but he doesn't much care for the name changes either, citing the comfort factor of regionally-based nameplates.)

Gassed: And if you think the stores-buying-each-other is bad in retail, it's even worse for gas stations. Let's see: A couple years ago, Exxon merged with Mobil and Chevron merged with Texaco, but Shell bought the rights to the Texaco name for a few years. Since some of these companies had stations on the same corner, a big game of musical-chairs erupted, so that *draws big breath* most of the Texaco stations became Shell stations, more than a few of the Mobils were bought by Chevron, and now, with ChevronTexaco getting the Texaco name back, the rest of the Mobils seem to have become Texaco's. It's hard to tell the players without a program...

Show me the money? Yeah, right... It's been a year to the day since my wreck, and I still haven't seen dollar one from the uninsured lady who hit me. Anyone think I'll ever see that money?

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