Diehard supporters of the defunct Castner-Knott department stores are unmoved by the conversion of most of the chain’s former stores into Macy’s.
“That’s what, three names since they stopped being Castner-Knott?” says Lucy Ferry, a member of a support group for those who lament the passing of the popular stores. The venerable Nashville store was a division of Mercantile Stores, which was bought in 1998 by the company that also operates the Dillard’s chain. Subsequently, the Castner-Knott stores in local malls were converted to Proffitt’s, then to Hecht’s, and, last week, to Macy’s.
“I don’t care what they call it, there will never be another Castner’s,” Ferry says. She has been attending the support group meetings at Brentwood United Methodist Church since the group was formed in 1999. There were three or four groups formed about then, but since then they have dwindled and consolidated.
“We are really hard-core C-K people,” says Von Rustig. “Right now we have about a dozen people every month.”
At a recent meeting the group lamented what they say is a lack of value in today’s department stores compared to Castner-Knott. Some brought matted and framed newspaper advertisements of sales dating back to the 1940s. The group also maintains a library of grainy black-and-white Castner-Knott security tapes, primarily from the Hickory Hollow location.
“We are now having all those converted to DVD from the original VHS. You would not believe the quality—you can almost smell the perfume counter,” Ferry says. “I just don’t see Macy’s moving me that way.”
Rustig bristled at the suggestion that such devotion to a business was somehow strange.
“We get that all the time,” he says. “But the Titans are a business and it’s OK for everybody to wear their logo and talk about how they’re doing. I used to feel about Castner’s the way some people feel about the Titans. And there’s nothing wrong with that.”