Q&A with Macy's Easton manager Kathi Newton

Sherry Beck Paprocki

Macy's Easton manager talks about shopping and the store that was just refreshed.

Kathi Newton was a buyer for the Columbus department store, Lazarus, before she worked her way up the ladder to become vice president and store manager of Macy's Easton location. We asked her some questions about the store's recent renovation this summer and her shopping preferences.

How long have you been at Macy's ?Easton location?

I have been at Macy's Easton for a year and a half. Before this, I was the store manager for Tuttle Crossing and prior to that, regional merchandise manager. I am proud to call Columbus home since 1981 when I was a buyer for Lazarus, which is now Macy's.

Why a renovation at the Macy's location?

It's located in America's heartland where there is a healthy, growing community, [a] new concept mall and [a] great Macy's store. Easton is the perfect store to try new things and see how customers respond.

Is there any chance the shoe department will get even bigger anytime soon? (It's packed on weekends.)

We're thrilled to see that the department is so popular! We've carefully curated the selection to give our customers the best to choose from, whether they're shopping for casual footwear or bridal. The department has also been completely refreshed with contemporary seating, lighting and fixtures.

Seriously, the store seems more organized since the renovation. Is there less merchandise there, or does it just feel that way?

We've refined merchandise to cater to the Columbus shopper. We pay close attention to the brands, trends and special occasions that are most important to our customer and make sure that's reflective in our store. Additionally, for the first time, our assortment has also been curated to address lifestyle needs. For example, a significant area of the first floor has been dedicated to health and wellness. This department includes athletic footwear, a wide assortment of active apparel for women, men and children, the latest fitness and tech accessories and even a full-service juice and smoothie bar from Berry Blendz. Full-time health and fitness ambassadors with nutritional background[s] and expertise in health sciences support customers [who have] any lifestyle questions.

What is the most exciting part of ?this renovation?

The customer and associate response to the renovation has been the most exciting aspect. We have had tremendously positive response and customers are genuinely pleased with the changes that we have made.

What do you shop for most frequently, since you're always at the store?

On a daily basis I would say Starbucks, but I now also frequent our new full-service juice and smoothie bar, Berry Blendz.As far as merchandise, I use our MyStylist program and have a personal shopper who makes sure I have time to keep my wardrobe updated throughout the season. I have to admit, the entire store gets a good deal of business from me. Cosmetics is also pretty dangerous for me. It's difficult not to shop all the time when you work in a department store.

What are the biggest trends you're seeing for fall fashion?

For the ladies it [is] all about borrowing from the guys. It starts with the white dress shirt to timeless trenches, nautical duffle coats, chic tuxedos and oversized crews. Colors like navy and camel blur the lines between masculine and feminine and are prevalent. We'll also see a nod to the '60s and '70s with A-line dresses, graphic prints and rust tones. Sweater vests and flared pantsuits are back again and we'll see a big comeback with plaid and suede.

Given that internet shopping is so popular, how will that affect Macy's retail locations in the future?

Regardless of whether it is online, mobile or in-store, our commitment to our customer continues to drive what we do and how we evolve. Our websites and mobile apps have continued to improve, becoming more robust with merchandise offerings, content and functionality. Our stores will operate more effectively and efficiently to fulfill online purchases with the national availability of buying online for store pickup and same-day delivery. Elevated customer service [has been implemented] to make that process as streamlined as possible. For example, at Easton … customers have designated parking and can pickup orders from the Connect @Macy's kiosk booth conveniently located at the north entrance of the store.

If your budget was unlimited, what would you buy from Macy's?

I would change the furniture in my house! I already shop almost exclusively at Macy's because we carry just about everything.