Macy’s founder Rowland Hussey Macy — better known as R.H. Macy — failed numerous times before hitting it big with the department store.
In 1844, at around 19 years old, and after sailing for four years on a whaling ship, Macy opened a needle-and-thread store in Boston. That failed. Then, he and his brother, Charles, started a dry goods store in California during the Gold Rush. That failed. In 1851 Macy and Charles tried yet again, once again in Massachusetts. That didn’t do so great, either.
Not willing to give in to failure, in 1858 Macy tried once again with another dry goods shop — this time in New York City. After one year, the shop, named R.H. Macy & Co., pulled in $85,000 in gross revenue — roughly $2.5 million today. The rest, as they say, is history.
Another fun fact — that whaling trip we mentioned earlier? That’s when Macy got a tattoo of a red star on his forearm, which he used for Macy’s emblem.