She’s been captain of the mother ship since March 1999, after managing the unit on Long Island at Roosevelt Field, which is more than 300,000 square feet and Macy’s largest volume branch with about $140 million in annual sales, and about one-fourth the square footage of Herald Square.
"Having run a store like Macy’s Roosevelt Field prepares you for a place like this, but just finding my way around at first was a little intimidating. There’s a lot of ground to cover," Lee said during an interview in her office, where she’s not likely to be found often. In and around the flagship, "There probably are certain places I haven’t been, like a few mechanical closets, stockrooms or sub-basements."
Before that store, Lee managed other key Macy’s branches in Hamilton and Wayne, N.J., and Pentagon City, Va. She’s a 19-year veteran of Macy’s, and a former shoe buyer.
Compared to even Macy’s biggest branches, Macy’s Herald Square seems complicated and chaotic to run, at least to an outsider looking in. Situated between 34th and 35th Streets and Broadway and Seventh Avenue, the 2 million-square-foot flagship stands like a mountain intercepting all that commuter and tourist traffic to the Empire State Building, Penn Station and Times Square.
Lee said on average, 35,000 people visit the store daily, but the range is wide, from 20,000 on a typical day to 100,000 on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. Because of the intensity and fluctuations in traffic, staffing needs are complex, with the staff doubling to around 4,000 during holiday season. The store has 1.1 million square feet of retail space, with 75 to 80 percent for selling and 20 to 25 percent for storage. The flagship also houses the corporate offices for Macy’s East.
Nevertheless, Lee, discussing the nature of her job and atmosphere at Herald Square, described the store as highly organized. It’s considered a separate region for Macy’s since it operates as five stores in one, with five store managers. They’re vice presidents for home, ready-to-wear, men’s wear, center court, and special businesses, which include kids, coats, swimwear and lingerie. Merchandise is sold on nine floors, as well as in The Cellar and on the balcony.