Each year, DDI Magazine presents the Markopoulous Award, honoring one outstanding professional from the visual merchandising and store design industry. It is named in honor of the late Andrew Markopoulos, whose tenure as senior vice president of visual merchandising and store design for the department store division of Dayton Hudson made an indelible mark in the field and elevated it from a trade to an art form.
This year, the 17th recipient of the peer-awarded honor is Joe Feczko of Macy’s Inc. As the senior vice president of marketing innovation and integration at the Cincinnati-based department store giant, Feczko says what started as a part-time job at Bloomingdale’s launched him into a rich career that spanned time at Duty Free Shoppers, Neiman Marcus and Avon, before heading back to Federated Department Stores.
“When I started working at Bloomingdale’s, I thought salespeople did windows,” Feczko says. “It’s been a long, fabulous journey of 30-plus years.”
Over his career, Feczko created many noteworthy projects, like Neiman Marcus’ “The Book;” the QR-code campaign “Macy’s Backstage Pass;” and “Believe,” Macy’s award-winning holiday advertising campaign. He served as executive producer on the Emmy Award-winning animated special “Yes, Virginia,” a 30-minute branded content program for Macy’s. In addition, he was associate producer and a retail consultant for NBC’s reality show “Fashion Star."
Feczko says that he is flattered to have been recognized by people he knows and admires by winning the Markopoulos Award, and that he is most thankful for having had the opportunity to work and build friendships with such visionaries as Stanley Marcus, Terry Lundgren, Marvin Traub, Candy Pratts Price, Ignaz Gorischek and Andrea Jung, among others.
“What I’m probably most pleased about is the chance I had to know and work alongside Andy Markopoulos,” he says. “Andy was one of the true innovators of his time. Going back to the 1980s, one of the big tech concepts for the downtown Minneapolis Dayton Hudson flagship was to make a massive video wall, about 30 big TV sets all wired together...It made the news, and I made it a point myself to go see it, because it was so breakthrough. Macy’s now owns that Dayton Hudson. So, we were recently having a technology meeting, and someone was saying, ‘We have this huge video wall we have to do something with.’ I just had to laugh to myself, because if you hang around long enough, you’ll see things again. We decided to upgrade the idea to flatscreens though, to get away from the monitors that weighed 1,000 pounds each.”
Feczko says he is constantly learning and growing in his job, trying to be on his toes for what will capture the hearts (and handbags) of shoppers next. As in many fields, keeping up with emerging technology—like ever-changing mobile capabilities and interests—is one of the aspects that is most challenging in retail.
To attract the best and brightest to the industry, Feczko emphasizes the importance of educating the next generation of creative minds about the opportunities that exist in retail.
“At this level at Macy’s, we’re constantly looking for big new talent,” he says. “What is nice is that people are now coming in with digital expertise, as opposed to 10-20 years ago. Now, most people hit the ground running, because they are so comfortable. But, it’s still thrilling to see them coming up with new ideas on how to present merchandise."
By cultivating his passion for visual merchandising, Feczko continues to have a dynamic and engaging career in retail. “I’ve been really lucky,” he says. “It’s definitely a commitment you have to make, but I’ve always enjoyed the opportunity to understand emerging fashion trends and technology, not just on a domestic level but on a global level as well. That’s where I draw my strength and energy from.”
The 17th annual Markopoulos Award will be presented at the A.R.E. Design Awards (April 16) during GlobalShop in Chicago, and at the Portfolio Awards Dinner (Sept. 27) during the DDI Forum in Napa, Calif.