Thanks in part to Miracle on 34th Street, the classic Christmas film, and its annual Thanksgiving Day Parade, Macy's has been immortalized in the minds of generations of Americans. It's hard to imagine that Macy's was once a small storefront operation founded by a businessman whose previous stores had failed. But success was just around the corner.
Eleven dollars and six cents. That was the total of first-day sales when Macy's opened its doors in 1858. Of course, at that time, it wasn't a retail superpower—it was a small dry-goods store on the corner of 14th Street and 6th Avenue in New York City. Before founding that little shop, Rowland Hussey Macy had suffered several failed retail ventures. This time, things would turn out differently.
By 1877, R.H. Macy & Co. had become a full-fledged department store, spreading its way into the ground spaces of 11 adjacent buildings. Just about 25 years later, the store had outgrown even those expanded confines, so the company moved to its iconic Herald Square location on Broadway and 34th Street. There, Macy's began to attract shoppers from the rest of the country and the world. This location also saw the store become a major part of American holidays, especially in 1924, when immigrant employees wrangled the city's packs of stray floats and organized the first annual Macy's Parade.
Today, Macy's boasts 850 locations across 45 states and US territories. A far cry from that initial dry-goods shop, the modern-day stores carry everything from clothing and shoes to furniture and electronics. Though it is now headquartered in Cincinnati, the company's flagship store in Herald Square still attracts throngs of customers from all corners of the globe. The same can be said for the Macy's website, which is one of the most visited retail destinations on the Internet.