MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — For 49 years, the eighth floor auditorium of the flagship department store in downtown Minneapolis has been a Christmas wonderland. However, this will be the fourth year in the row of the exact same display: A Day in the Life of An Elf. So, why is Macy’s still repeating itself?

Many customers appear to share the opinion of Betsy Kroon: “They are CHEAP,” she said.

Macy’s is arguing that doing the same show every year is more of a tradition.

“Macy’s is delighted to provide our customers with the opportunity to visit Santa amidst one of the most magical, elaborate and unique holiday displays,” said Andrea Schwartz in a statement sent from her Macy’s public relations office in Chicago.

“That’s not right. They should change it,” said one customer outside Macy’s.

“Four years is too long for this elf,” said another.

In 1963, Dayton’s installed the first show in the eighth floor auditorium in Minneapolis, “Santa’s Enchanted Forest.” Since that time, more than 15 million have walked through, transfixed.

“My mom started with taking me sometime after 1965 and it continued when my niece and nephew was born. My mom thoroughly enjoyed taking her grandchildren to the display and watching them get excited to see what the NEW story would be,” said Pat Casey.

Over the years, Dayton’s had exhibits that include Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Pippi Longstocking, Cinderella, Peter Pan, The Wizard of Oz and Harry Potter.

Even after Marshall Field’s took over the store, there were still new displays every year, including Snow White, Mary Poppins and The Nutcracker.

In 2008, however, Macy’s debuted a storyline the company designed and owned called, “A Day in the Life of An Elf.” Now the company has shown no intention of changing that, instead calling it a “new tradition.”

“If you’re cynical, their saving money. They store it, pull it out, dust it off and, ‘What do you know? The animals are decorating the tree again!’” said Dennis Ryan, Chief Creative Officer at OLSON, an advertising and marketing agency.

“Or you could also say in the holidays, tradition is a big deal,” he added. “People like surprise. I like surprise, but, at the same point, there’s the comfort of the holidays.”

During the holidays, many people tend to watch the same Christmas movies, look at the same light displays and Macy’s is guessing that many will go look at the same eighth floor display.

Macy’s in Herald Square in New York City does the same Santaland and Miracle on 34th Street exhibit every year. But in Chicago, Macy’s does still change their Christmas window themes at the old Marshall Field’s.

“If you’ve got a 4-year-old and got a 6-year-old, you’re gonna want to take them to the auditorium and see it. Kids like it. I don’t think it’s gonna hurt them at all,” said Ryan.

Comments (37)
  1. Diane says:

    I say boycott Macy’s. It is all about the dollar and Macy’s is so cheap that they don’t want to change the display. People are getting frustrated with the same display year after year, it is time for Macy’s to step it up and change the display. Put people who are creative to work and let them do the display and quit being Scrooges Macy’s.

  2. Cynic says:

    They are just being cheap. They could easily have a rotation of 3-4 or more that they cycle thru so its not the same every year while still having the comfort of never changing

  3. xxx says:

    Look at it another way. How often do you, as a private person change your Christmas decorations year in and year out.
    Don’t you continue to use the same decorations each and every year. You may buy one or two decorations as years go by, but in general, isn’t the bulk of your decorations the same each year?

    Does anyone call you “cheap” or other names because you don’t throw away all of your lights and decorations each year and buy new ones every year?

    If not, why should Macy’s charge each year. Tradition is not a bad thing.

    Enjoy the season.

  4. Dennis says:

    All I have to say is OMG!!! If that is ruining your life they may want to take alook at the world situation or the ecomonic situation of this country………

    Macy’s Christmas display upsetting people, REALLY??

    1. em1022 says:

      Thank you Dennis!! I couldn’t agree more!! If this is the extent of your worries than that is great but coming back to reality for a second…it doesn’t really matter. My family and I will still go because that is what the holidays are about to me…tradition, family and food!!

    2. Manny says:

      The argument that there are bigger problems in the world is far more apathetic and naseous than Macy’s lack of concern for this time-honored tradition of the eighth floor auditorium.

      Dennis is the true Grinch of Christmas.

  5. willow says:

    It’s still a recession, despite what our government wants to tell us. What do you expect?

  6. Brett Carter says:

    I appreciate the ideas about tradition and using the same decorations at home. In our case however, seeing what magic Macy’s has created THIS year was the tradition. It has been lost, and being disappointed by the same display, no matter how wonderful, is not a tradition worth continuing. I hope they’ll bring back new stories every year.

  7. Liz says:

    You’d think if they really cared about the community they’d find a way to make it work. The 8th floor display was a tradition ever since I can remember which continued until last year (we’re talking 20+ years). We’ll be back if they decide to start changing it up again but until then we’re starting some new holiday traditions.

    @Dennis, there is something about tradition, spending time with family and stepping away from technology into another world ESPECIALLY during the time we’re in and our tough economic times. This is also one of those free activities for families. Not every cause has to be extreme, sometimes it’s the little things in life.

    1. Trev says:

      You’re forgetting the fact that Macy’s took over Dayton’s. Macy’s doesn’t have a quarter of the class that Dayton’s (Mark Dayton excluded, lol) did. Dayton’s was exclusive and higher end. Macy’s is not…

    2. Mandi Gordon says:

      Exactly. You’d think they’d want to keep their costumers and respect that generations of families have gotten so excited to go see the new story every year. It’s very selfish of them and it’s taking away the excitement and uniquness of Christmas. If every year is the same, how do we remember what year this or that happened? It all blends now and new memories aren’t being created. The tradition was the new story… for over 40 years. It makes me SO mad. I HATE it. This display is no longer fun to walk thru and read. Macy’s ruined it.

  8. jan says:

    I don’t see what all the fuss is about. As Macy’s is a private business, it can have any kind of display it wants or no display at all. If customers don’t like it, they can shop somewhere else. It would be nice for the community if it had those wonderful displays but they are not required to do it. Hecetu

    1. Liz says:

      Well, that’s exactly it, companies are losing that personal touch and the special community involvement. In a perfect world companies would care a little more about the people that buy their products. I know that sounds unheard of these days.

      And of course it’s not required and the funny thing is it would have done them some good to keep the “tradition” as is as the devoted Dayton’s shoppers are already disillusioned by Macy’s. If they knew better they’d do right by the community and in turn, we would probably be more likely to shop there.

  9. Vanessa says:

    Wish they would could change it. Loved our family tradition of coming down to see the new winter story. In the past few years haven’t gone because it’s the same. It’s made my family have one less tradition.

  10. marie says:

    Never been to see it, but it seems if they have attractions from the past they could use them to mix it up a little. Cheap if they are problem solved!!

  11. john says:

    The tradition part of it is going to Macy’s and seeing the Chrirstmas display, not seeing the same thing year after year after year. I.E. the tradition is getting and giving presents at Christmas, but not getting the same thing every year. Cheap or not, just come out and say it Macy’s you don’t consider this a big enough deal to put resources to and this is the way it is going to be, same display. Toss in the tradition of trying to find parking, getting to the top of the building, and waiting in a long line to the tradition and it is not for me anymore.

  12. Mom says:

    BRING BACK DAYTON’s they at least changed the display and yes I change mine up a bit every year, you can do that without spending a dime. Macy’s has a lot more money then most…I bet they will find a drop in people coming to the display and the store. GO Sears and anyone else!

  13. s says:

    Why not bring back some of the oldies? The Polar Express, perhaps!

  14. JN says:

    I have been going to the 8th floor auditorium for almost 40 years. It was the highlight of the holiday season for me. I’m sad that my daughter will not have the opportunity to experience the same magic that I, and many other Minnesotan’s, have had over the years.

    I will not bring my daughter down town, stand in line, and fight traffic for the same display we have seen three times already, it’s not worth it. It use to be well worth the wait, not so much now.

    I’m sure some people appreciate the lack of change and view it as a tradition. But for me the tradition was in the surprise of the wonderful new things they came up with year after year.

    I’m hoping some of the large companies in town that are typically community leaders (Target, US Bank, General Mills, 3M, etc.) will step up and assist with a new display. It’s apparent Macy’s has no desire to do so.

    1. Mary says:

      I completely agree. Seeing a new story was the tradition for the people in this community and I am so sad my kids are not getting that same tradition. What a disapointment.

  15. Mandi Gordon says:

    I’ve been going to this every year my whole life. When October comes around we’d call the store and bug them for the release of the new story of the year because it was exciting. New tradition? This display has changed every year for decades, the new story WAS the tradition many many people grew to love. Since everything else around the holidays IS the same, same movies same lights etc.This story display was the exciting different thing that made that specific year memorable. We’d go, “Oh remember when we saw the Grinch and we did this and that? Back in whatever year- and we went out to that resturant after? That was so much fun! I was 12.” now it’s like… “Gee, what year was that? I don’t know. They all blend together.”

  16. Luke J Powers says:

    Swag, recorded same night as the Odd Future concert. hah right at the start of the clip of the old dude downtown, you can see me in my white earl shirt and blue L.A. hat sitting down on the bus. FREE EARL! Golf Wang!

  17. Niki says:

    What’s the point of going anymore, year after year, when it’s all the same. It was alright the first year, but my kids don’t want to see the same thing anymore. My 12 year old liked going, until it was always a repeat. It wasn’t supposed to be the same ‘tradition” as say watching the same Christmas movie year after year… it was supposed to be more… magical. Unfortunately Macy’s has taken the fun out of it and I have to find a new “tradition” that’s not always the same to start with my family. It’s sad really. They’ve had some WONDERFUL displays in the past. Please Macy’s, reconsider what you’re doing – saving money will cost in the long run. Family’s will NOT bring themselves back if it really is the same every year… in essance, you’ll be loosing money in sales instead.

    Please change the display.

  18. Mimi says:

    What I always loved was that it wasn’t about Christmas… sure there was Santa at the end, but the display itself was not. This is no longer a HOLIDAY event downtown for everyone. Now its just a Christmas thing that I would never feel comfortable taking my kids to. Really disappointing.Even if they don’t want to pay for the really expensive licensing for pop culture displays I think we would all be happy to see classic fairy-tales…This whole thing really makes me wish that Bloomingdale’s had won the bid for Marshall Fields… boo….

  19. Heather says:

    It used to be that there was a 1-2 hour wait to get through the Holiday event. People were excited and didn’t mind standing in the hallway that long to see what new and exciting display was up. But now? It’s a ghost town and you can get through just as fast as you can run through it. It’s the same old boring display. And let’s face it, it doesn’t even look attractive. It literally looks like it’s been standing around for 25 years and just gets plugged in at Christmas.

    To this disappointed shopper the Elf display is a reason to stay away from the store. And hey, it helps me save money because I won’t conveniently pick up overpriced presents while I’m there. So maybe I should just say thanks.

  20. LPH says:

    Macy’s is using “tradition” as an excuse to be cheap. The message that I take away is that once again the Midwest is the provincial flyover land where we won’t know any better and will just accept what the Macy’s brand throws at us. They really don’t get the Minnesota community at all. How about the tradition that existed here before of having a new show each year? One of our favorite things to look forward to every holiday season was to see the full page ad in the paper and find out what the new theme would be for the year. They just don’t get it. Even the spring flower show was replaced the first year Macy’s owned the store with only placing flower arrangements on the first floor perfume and jewelry counters.

    But please – Their annual NYC Thanksgiving Day Parade has a new custom designed balloon this year and has new floats and new entertainment each year even though Rockettes always perform and Santa still ends the parade.

    The in-store puppet show used here in the Twin Cities is a recycle/retread that they brought in from their other stores and are using over again as well. To give you an indication of how old that show is, Walter Cronkite (may he rest in peace) is one of the featured voices.

    Going to the 8th floor auditorium each year was one of our family traditions but sadly is no more. As Macy’s can’t be bothered to care then neither can we.

  21. LeAnn says:

    A day in the life of an elf for the 4th year? We quit coming to downtown Macy’s downtown last year because of that. We drive in from Fargo ND each Thanksgiving to go shopping. Half of the time is spent on children’s activities the other half shopping. Granted we are only a carload of 6, but our money is not going to be spent at Macy’s and downtown Minneapolis anymore. Macy’s: you’ve ruined a magical part of our families annual outing.

  22. CJ says:

    I agree with everyone here who is tired of “A Day in the Life of An Elf”. It’s like they are retreading the same old display, knowing we will not come, then they will have their excuse to discard it, which was their goal all along. What Macy’s doesn’t seem to get is that a new display brings in people year after year. It’s been my family’s tradition my whole life as well. After the 4th year of the retread, we are bored and we might just find new traditions this year. Why should I bother coming all the way to the Macy’s downtown store? What I do not get… If it’s too expensive for Macy’s to put on, they should join up with downtown businesses, heck, maybe the MPLS City Council should get involved. It brings more people into downtown to BUY things!

  23. Cris Martin-Peterson says:

    I’m 42 years old and have never missed a year at Dayton’s, Marshall’s and now Macy’s. Now with my own kids, Macy’s is taking away that tradition for us. I don’t agree that they are creating their own tradition by keeping the same display year after year. What they will find is there are many of us who look forward to the surprise of a new story. My entire family will be boycotting Macy’s due to their decision.

    1. Diane says:

      I wouldn’t say we are boycotting Macy’s, just simply not going to go because just like you, we looked forward to the new story every year.

      Last year when we realized it was the same story line again, we just bypassed the display and went straight to Santa. Now that my kids are too old for Santa, there’s no reason to drive all the way to the city and put up with the parking and lines.

      But in case Macy’s reads these comments, I would like to add that we would definately come back for a new display.

  24. Sam says:

    We will no longer be going to Macys Holiday display untill they get their heads on straight and put in new displays. I hope one of the other big stores get a clue and start the tradition. Good way to lose a ton of Money Macy’s!!

  25. sarah says:

    I think there is a lot of complaining about an event that is free! Its nearly impossible to find fun family activities any more that don’t cost you an arm and a leg! Don’t get me wrong I loved the fact that every year the display was different but now that its staying the same, I am not going to stay away. Its more about the experience for me and just the magic of the holidays. Even though I have seen this display many times I still find things that I have never noticed before. So thank you Macy’s for still providing a wonderful holiday experience!

  26. Tom says:

    I too have great memories of experiencing the 8th floor every year with my grandmother. The best part was the anticipation of what we would find beyond the next corner. My children will never experience this. What kind of life will my children have if people believe that a corporations profits are more important than the happiness of thousands of children?

  27. pamela says:

    I thought as a marketing stand point that changing it every year was a good thing! It brought in new people to the store it promoted their christmas ordaments and products. If its about money perhaps each year a new Highshool in the state can work on it or voleenteers can put it togather. I would voleenteer in a heart beat!!

    1. newcraft says:

      I don’t think they have a shortage of volunteers even from among their employees – the costs revolve around the materials they’d have to buy new each year, it’s not insignificant, not paying people to construct it.

      Honestly, I don’t understand the complaints or the insistence that other companies “take up the cause.” The other businesses could have done this decades ago – but have chosen not to. It’s about costs, bottom line.

      The current Elf display involves a lot of animatronics – the singing christmas trees alone are a work of art. Not even Disney would build electronic pieces on that kind of scale just to get rid of them after 6 weeks. If it were my work – I wouldn’t want to see it tossed and replaced so quickly either.

      The thing is that you see something “new” in the old displays each time you go in. Just like watching the same tv shows each season – it’s never the exact same experience.

  28. seoul says:

    I guess for now i’ll settle for e-book-marking and adding your RSS feed to my
    Google account.

  29. Emmanuel says:

    If you are locked out of your home could be feasible to
    kick the door in inflicting damage to the body or call a locksmith.

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