To show Federated Department Stores that Crenshaw district residents are serious about wanting a quality department store in their neighborhood, about 200 patrons of the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza took to the streets Saturday morning.
They want Federated to replace the soon-to-be-closed Broadway there with a Macy's or a similar, high-quality store.
"This is a parade for a Macy's," said Minnie Sweet-Goings, a march organizer and participant in the Empowerment Congress, a coalition of community members in the south Los Angeles area.
Toting signs and balloons that read, "Make it Macy's," Sweet-Goings and other Crenshaw-area residents marched up and down the stretch of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard that goes through the two-building mall.
The Broadway store at the mall has been in a state of limbo since summer when Federated bought the Broadway chain. Many Broadway stores are slated to become Macy's or Bloomingdale's, while others will be sold or shut down.
But no decision has been made on what will happen to the store at the Plaza.
Marchers said the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza--the only shopping mall in the area--needs a quality department store so they can spend their money in their own community.
"I'm tired of having to go to the Valley," said Carmen Hawkins, an attorney who lives within walking distance of the mall. "These stores [in the mall] don't carry the things I need as a professional," Hawkins said, "so I'm forced to shop outside [the community]."
City Councilman Mark-Ridley Thomas said: "Quite frankly, this area has one of the largest concentrations of African American wealthy in the nation," and they would be more than happy to be able to buy quality goods locally.
The mall, built in 1947, has experienced a revitalization in the last year since the Magic Johnson Theatres opened, according to the mall's owners.
Stores are reporting at least a 25% increase in sales since the movie theaters opened, according to the Haagen Property Management Co. The Sears department store has had the highest sales increase of any Sears in the region.
The loss of a major department store could jeopardize that economic growth, march organizers said.
"It doesn't take much to understand that this is an issue of life quality," said Romerol Malveaux, another march organizer.
So far, the organizers have collected over 3,000 signatures and sent hundreds of letters to Federated.
"You bring us your best," state Sen. Diane Watson (D-Los Angeles) said as she spoke to the marchers, in a message intended for Federated, "and we'll give you our best."
After the march, Broadway officials released a statement from Federated and Macy's promising a decision soon and saying that the companies "are flattered that the community has been so supportive and wants them to be there."