(Aug. 18, 1834–Jan. 16, 1906)
Marshall Field is a celebrated name in retail and Chicago history. In 1865 he and Levi Zeigler Leiter joined the merchandising firm of Potter Palmer. When Palmer withdrew, the firm became Field, Leiter and Co. In 1881 Field bought out Leiter for $2,500,000, naming it Marshall Field and Company. In an age of unethical merchandising, Field emphasized customer service, liberal credit, the one-price system, the privilege of returning merchandise, and the department-store restaurant. Field is credited with the phrases, “Give the lady what she wants,” and “The customer is always right.” Field’s estate was valued at $125,000,000. Among his beneficiaries were the University of Chicago and the Columbian Museum (later the Field Museum of Natural History). His grandson Marshall Field III (1893–1956) founded the Chicago Sun (afterward the Chicago Sun-Times).
photo and text by Joe Collier