Friday, November 4, 2011

Macy’s and Gimbels Revisited

Hopefully, most of you will be familiar with the 1947 Christmas classic film Miracle on 34th Street. In it, a very young Natalie Woods plays a child who has been taught by her mother not believe in Santa Claus. However, when Kris Kringle himself takes over as the Macy’s Santa, she comes to believe in him and therefore Santa Claus. This belief is the miracle at the heart of the story.

I took away another miracle within the story at a very young age. At one point, Kris Kringle tells a mother that Gimbels has the toy her child wants for Christmas when Macy’s does not. At first, the store management is upset, but when the woman declares that she will always be a loyal customer because of this act of referral and publicity goes in Macy’s favor, Kris is hailed as a genius. I think this is as good as it gets in the miracle department.

About ten years ago, I opened a consignment shop and I made this a habit of mine – sending customers to other consignment shops that I knew carried what they wanted. My parents, who have been in the antique business for nearly 25 years, do the same thing.

First, it just makes sense. If you don’t have what the customer wants but know who does, why wouldn’t you tell them? For fear they’ll find the other competitor? So? The next time they are looking for something they are far more likely to come to your place first because they know you’ll refer them elsewhere if you don’t have it.

Second, it’s the right thing to do. I believe if I live my life always at least trying to do the right thing, more often than not, I will manage it.

So, why am I revisiting this old film now? Because I’m concerned by what I see as competitors nipping at each other’s heels on Twitter, specifically writers – probably because that’s my thing.

To be brutally honest, there are many thousands of writers on Twitter right now, all pursuing the same basic dream, many of whom have been inspired by John Locke’s success story – selling 1 million eBooks in 5 months. We all want to be the next Locke – plucked from the many and settled down into our own private dreams, usually a variation of this one – a worry-free, monied existence, finally able to write to our heart’s content rather than work for someone else in a day job. We want this so bad it hurts.

Non-writers out there are begging for the same opportunity – financial freedom. Twitter is the portal to this golden world. Pen a bunch of yearning dreamers up in a confined space like Twitter and you’re bound to get a few scratches and in-fights.

But here’s the thing. We will not all make it. Some will. Some won’t. I contend that “It doesn't matter if you win or lose, it's how you play the game.” – a famous but unattributed quote. Going back to the film, it was when both stores – Macy’s and Gimbels – rose above themselves and began to cross-refer that they both did well.

So, here’s what I propose. When we are lucky enough to find a great writer or fantastic product or funny blogger – or whatever – let’s go out of our way to help promote it or them. Retweet their messages or do an original tweet about it yourself. In that manner, we all do better.

In the end, we live or die as a group anyway. If Twitter remains a positive force, people will hang on to it, help it grow. If it withers away from a plethora of criticisms and negativity, we all lose.

Through lifting each other up, we perform our own miracles every day.

PS - you will find this same post on both my blogs. I want it to reach as many readers as possible.


  1. Kathy, I promote several other writers. I believe in paying it forward. I hadn't thought about it in terms of Macy's vs. Gimbel's but you have a point, a darn good one too. If we don't support each other and recommend writers who will better meet a readers needs then why are we writing in the first place. Thanks for writing this piece. It is a job well done.


  2. This is right on! I've always believed that if you want to be successful, you should help others be successful. It's a win-win formula. Great post and just at the right time! Kudos to you!

  3. Great post, Kathy. Ardee-ann said it: Pay it Forward. And Jo said it for what helping is: a win-win.

    The giver receives at least as much as the receiver gets!

  4. Great post. Has someone linked it to Twitter? May I.

  5. Found my way here via Twitter! I haven't experienced anything except writerly support and fun on Twitter. Hope I didn't just jinx myself, lol.

    Love your take on Miracle on 34th st. Every time I watch that movie I end up saying to the screen, "You have an incredible job and an apartment in New York! Don't give it up!!!"

  6. You may! I'm not sure what linking to Twitter means. I probably need to know that. Thanks Miss Dazey.

  7. Jane - thanks for stopping by! I'm sure you won't jinx yourself. The vast majority of interactions on Twitter - especially between writers - is positive. It's the occasional but deadly strikes that bother me. Frankly, I didn't see much of that either until the past month.

    The things that warm my heart are the gifts of promotion to others, especially when someone creates an original tweet about a "competitor".

    Hope to see you here again - Kathy

  8. Every Friday, I plug a different writer- I read their books and tell everyone. That bit of goodwill doesn't cost me- but it profits me because I get goodwill, retweets, and reciprocation. I see a lot of others do it, but not everyone, so get in on it!

  9. Charlotte - You just made my day!! Love the idea of regularity.

  10. Great post - I was really surprised at how much support is out there from many folks across the twitterverse.

  11. I am surprised at the amount of support as well Emma. Since I'm just beginning to understand the 'language' on Twitter, perhaps swipes haven't been as evident to me.

  12. Don't get me wrong - there is a tremendous amount of support from all kinds of people. I love that about Twitter. I had simply noticed an increase in snarkiness - an uptick in judgmental stances - some ridiculous criticisms that seemed to come from a bad place AND a few authors, in particular, who don't give much back is terms of retweets or "the love."

    Overall, I love Twitter and the wonderful friends I have made on it.

  13. Amen! I retweet other polish bloggers all the time and I see the same thing with photographers retweeting each others stuff. Don't see it as often with the writers I follow. Or maybe I'm just not following as many? But great post!