In what is probably the most amusing case of the pot calling the kettle black this year so far, Macy’s filed a lawsuit in which it claimed that Martha Stewart shouldn’t be allowed to sell her home goods collection at JC Penney because that store’s “less upscale” market cheapens the value of Stewart’s Macy’s line.
Women’s Wear Daily reports that Macy’s filed a breach of contract suit against Stewart last week after Penney’s management announced plans to install Martha Stewart shop-in-stores in its 1,100 units nationwide. In the suit, Macy’s legal eagles say that if Stewart is allowed to work with downmarket Penney’s, its upmarket customers will get their tony, first-class, high-spending feelings hurt.
“MSLO has severely damaged the ‘crucial connection’ between Macy’s and Martha Stewart that Macy’s has devoted years and tens of millions of dollars to developing; it has destroyed the public perception that Macy’s is the only place a consumer can turn to to purchase Martha Stewart home products in key categories,” the suit said.
Macy’s said the injury is compounded by the fact that Penney’s is “perceived as a less upscale retailer” and that other lines of business could be hurt when Martha Stewart sets up shop at Penney’s since the brand attracts customers who then buy other products as well.
Some of those points are fair — Macy’s does a good job of making its customers (and their wallets) feel as though they’re shopping with the quality. But their phrasing makes us think they’ve forgotten that for all their collaborations with Karl Lagerfeld and commercials featuring Jessica Simpson, they’re a mass market mall retailer, just like JC Penney. The suit even goes so far as to say that Macy’s took a risk trying to class up the Martha Stewart brand when it took over sales from Kmart (where it was sold previously) a few years ago. And while Kmart might not sell Ralph Lauren, it’s still a fine store — and we’re sure a lot of people who shop at Macy’s buy things at Kmart, too.