His name was Andrew Markopoulos. On a typical day, he might have been seen in a crisp, white starched shirt and tailored charcoal suit—possibly a bright yellow tie. His natural poise and movements would be effortless, candor ever elegant. He would make you feel as if you were the dignitary, and he the gracious host, as he walked you through his impeccable retail store.
“Andy Markopoulos was a true professional in every sense of the word. He was always striving to make sure company management understood the importance of visual and store design—both often overlooked in the success of a company or store. He felt that, as an industry, we needed to carry ourselves with the professionalism and respect that we are due. Andy was always impeccably dressed. I remember the first time I saw him. As a very junior level person, I didn’t know who he was, but I instantly knew I wanted to be like him. He had an air about him, very polite and always accommodating. My career has certainly had its highlights, but none compare to being hand-selected by Andy to receive the first Markopoulos award. Andy left a lifelong impression on me and has helped shape my career.”
I share this story (as told to me by Ignaz Gorischek, the very first Markopoulos Award recipient in 1997) to highlight the character of a man who was—and remains—an icon in the retail design and visual merchandising industry.
Andrew Markopoulos was the senior vice president of visual merchandising and design for the department store division of Dayton Hudson, before retiring in 1995. His career also made stop throughs at Gimbel’s and Macy’s before starting at Dayton Hudson in 1980, and the bevy of today’s industry icons he touched along the way is quite impressive. He was a mentor in the truest form of the word. He had the ability to invigorate, inspire and induce an automatic insatiability to create. Or so I’ve heard. He passed away in 1999, a few years before my time at DDI began, and I never had the pleasure of meeting him personally. I can’t tell you how much I wish I had.
We have given an award each of the last 17 years in Andrew Markopoulos’ name, and each year celebrate the incoming recipient on the pages of this magazine. But, we have not always celebrated the past winners of the award as loudly or as prominently as we could or should have, a list of names that reads as a who’s who of the industry. Ignaz Gorischek. Tony Mancini. Judy Bell. James Mansour. Linda Fargo. Chuck Luckenbill. Simon Doonan. Christine Belich. James Damian. Michael Cape. Jack Hruska. Alfredo Paredes. Ralph Pucci. Tom Beebe. Denny Gerdeman. Eric Feigenbaum. And now, as you’ll read on page 28 of this issue, Joe Feczko.
These are not just names, these are legacies among us. Their work and mentoring have defined a generation of retail, and their impact on the industry has been immense. Beginning with this issue, we no longer will refer to them as just the “past winners” of the award. Henceforth, these elite titans of industry will be known as The Markopoulos Circle, a hall of fame distinction for the retail design and visual merchandising field.
Congratulations to Joe Feczko on achieving his well-deserved place as the 17th member of The Markopoulos Circle. He has certainly earned it.
And if you knew Andy Markopoulos personally, please drop me a line and tell me about him. Anyone who has had the pleasure of walking through the old Marshall Field’s on State Street in Chicago during their annual Flower Show has been touched by the gift this man gave our industry. I have heard so many wonderful anecdotes and stories about the man he was, and the stores he created. I am meeting this great man piece by piece, through the amazing stories that have defined him. And I’d love to hear yours. Let me know how Andrew Markopoulos affected you. Let’s keep this legacy alive and well among us.