Every year around the Christmas season, Margaux Cannon-Green’s family would race down the street to see “The Bon” star.
Cannon-Green remembers holding her mother’s hand while rounding the corner from Sixth Avenue in downtown Seattle. As soon as she spotted the star on the corner of the Macy’s building, she’d yell out that she’d found it — she’d won. Even after Cannon-Green’s mother died in 2014, Cannon-Green kept the game alive with her own daughter.
When Cannon-Green found out that Macy’s would not be lighting the 161-foot-tall star this year, she was heartbroken.
“It’s just full of memories,” Cannon-Green said. “It’s just like part of coming home.”
Cannon-Green was one of dozens of people who wrote to The Seattle Times after learning this weekend that Macy’s would be closing its doors in February and selling the iconic building at Third Avenue and Pine Street. Macy’s also announced it won’t light the star this year because of its need for repair.
The block-long, historic building, which housed the flagship The Bon Marché department store for decades, became Bon-Macy’s in 2003 and Macy’s in 2005, under rebranding that followed a company merger. Many who wrote to the Times recalled tender memories from the golden era of department stores in downtown Seattle — particularly around the Christmas season.
“Growing up in Seattle, I remember the train window at Christmas where I would put my hands on the window to make the trains run,” Ken Kirkpatrick wrote. “The Bon had the best and biggest toy [department] in the city.”
For some, the department store provided an opportunity to try on a different social status. Dena Johnson remembered going to The Bon Marché as an elementary-school kid with a friend to “pretend we were rich.”
“We’d make up these fabulous lives and we’d talk too loud so that everyone would hear how rich we were,” Johnson wrote. “Honestly, going to The Bon Marché downtown store is one of my very favorite memories to think back on.”
More than one reader also wrote to the Times about the quality of the chili dogs in The Bon’s basement cafeteria. “Best hot dog ever,” wrote one reader.
Alexis Zolner, of Ballard, said her memories of The Bon include time spent with her grandmother, who would always dress up to go downtown. The shopping trips ended in a root beer float or ice cream sundae at the old, “triangle store” Bartell’s. Zolner still keeps heavyweight boxes from that era that hold up to this day.
The downtown Macy’s closure is part of an ongoing trend of department-store downsizing in the era of e-commerce. Nordstrom, Macy’s and J.C. Penney have all closed their Northgate locations, Sears narrowly emerged from bankruptcy late last year, and earlier this year, Lord & Taylor’s flagship store shuttered on Fifth Avenue in New York City.
For Cannon-Green, the Macy’s or Bon star represented something permanent in a time of great change.
“Life marches on,” Cannon-Green said. “And I guess that’s why having things that remain constant like a beautiful star become important to you.”