‘This one’s for you, grandma’: Why Macy’s partnership with Guild holds a special meaning

Today Macy’s officially launches their fully-funded education program with Guild Education. Macy’s has a very special place in my heart and I want to share a bit about one of its employees, my grandma Yvonne. 

My grandma raised nine kids (you read that right — nine!) and as her youngest entered high school in 1973, she decided she wanted to take a job.

Like most women of her generation, she had only completed high school, but she was a grade-A student in the school of life. She supported a house of 11 humans for 35+ years, cooked three meals a day, kept the house together without many of today’s modern appliances, and cared for everyone. 

On the day she applied to Macy’s, which was known as The May Company back then, she was asked about her qualifications. She replied that she had raised nine children and could deal with anyone or anything. Great answer, I’d say! 

Always practical, she chose Macy’s because of her respect for the brand, but also because she could walk there from her house if she had car trouble — already she planned to never miss a day of work. 

She took a job in the sunglasses department, earning $1.65 an hour, and was excited by the option to tuck some of her wages away toward a company stock option program. While selling sunglasses, she learned she would earn a $1 bonus when certain pairs were sold. Safe to say, she became an expert in the entire inventory and quickly proved herself.

She was eventually offered a job to work in the credit department. Back then, it was a customer service role: If anyone had questions about their bill they would come and speak to her in person. My family said the role suited her perfectly. She’d been handling family finances for nearly 40 years on a very thin budget, and could patiently talk through a lot.

She was then promoted to run the entire credit department, balancing the books. In those days, before credit cards, the actual daily cash flow was tremendous. She would spend her days in the room with the cash, making sure that everything was balanced before the doors closed for the night. 

She said it was her dream job — as my Aunt Peggy recalled her saying, “It wasn’t a sacrifice; she was having the most fun of her life.” 

She was eventually made manager of the customer service department and ultimately built a flourishing career at Macy’s. She retired after 15 years and was so proud that her company stock options were worth about $80,000 by the time she retired.

My grandma is one of the reasons I do this work. There are millions of people just like her who deserve the dignity of a career. At Guild, we see it as our job to mobilize companies to invest in their employees, so employees can invest in themselves.

My grandmother’s experience made her a perfect fit at Macy’s. Toward the end of her life she told my Aunt Peggy that if her health were better and her job still existed, she’d go back in a minute.  Helps me know where I got my love of work!

This one is for you, Grandma.