Macy, Rowland H.

Macy, Rowland H.

(?1822–77) merchant; born in Nantucket, Mass. A whaler at age 15, when he returned from sea four years later he went into dry goods in Boston. After two failed attempts to run his own shop, he joined the gold rush in California and returned to Boston with $3,000, but again failed at running his own store. In 1857 he moved to New York City where he set up a dry goods store at a good location. With a cash-only policy and competitive pricing, he found success. An especially talented marketer and advertiser, he continued expanding his inventory until by 1872 he was a one-stop department store carrying everything from books to baby carriages and gourmet foods. He used clearance sales as a regular feature to maintain a high inventory turnover. At his death in 1877, he had 400 employees, sales of $1.6 million, and had set the standard for modern department stores.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.