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Neiman Marcus, originally Neiman-Marcus, is an American luxury specialty department store owned by the Neiman Marcus Group, headquartered in Dallas, Texas. The company also owns the Bergdorf Goodman department stores, and operates a direct marketing division, Neiman Marcus Direct, which operates catalogue and online operations under the Horchow, Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman names. Nationally, Neiman Marcus competes with luxury retailers Saks Fifth Avenue, Barneys New York, Lord & Taylor, Nordstrom, and Bloomingdale's.
Herbert Marcus, Sr., a former buyer with Dallas' Sanger Brothers department store, had left his previous job to found a new business with his sister Carrie Marcus Neiman and her husband, A. L. Neiman, then employees of Sanger Brothers competitor A. Harris and Co.. In 1907 the trio found themselves with $25,000 from the successful sales-promotion firm they had built in Atlanta, Georgia, and two potential investments into which to invest the funds. Opting to reject the unknown "sugary soda pop business," the three entrepreneurs chose instead to return to Dallas to found a retail business rather than take a chance on the fledgling Coca-Cola company. For this reason, early company CEO Peb Atera was quoted in 1957 as saying in jest that Neiman Marcus was "founded on bad business judgment." The store, established on September 10, 1907, was lavishly furnished and stocked with clothing of a quality that was not commonly found in Texas. Within a few weeks, the store's initial inventory, mostly acquired on a buying trip to New York made by Carrie, was completely sold out. Oil-rich Texans, welcoming the opportunity to flaunt their wealth in more sophisticated fashion than was previously possible, flocked to the new store. In spite of a nationwide financial panic set off only a few weeks after its opening, Neiman Marcus was instantly successful, and its first several years of operation were quite profitable.
In 1914 a fire destroyed the Neiman Marcus store and all of its merchandise. A temporary store was set up and opened in 17 days. By the end of 1914, Neiman Marcus opened in its new, permanent location at the corner of Main Street and Ervay Street. With the opening of the flagship Neiman Marcus Building, the store increased its product selection to include accessories, lingerie, and children's clothing, as well as expanding the women's apparel department. In its first year at the new building, Neiman Marcus recorded a profit of $40,000 on sales of $700,000, nearly twice the totals reached in its last year at the original location.
In 1927 the store expanded and Neiman Marcus premiered the first weekly retail fashion show in the United States. The store staged a show called "One Hundred Years of Texas Fashions" in 1936 in honor of the centennial of Texas' independence from Mexico. A later profile of the store, "Neiman Marcus of Texas," described the "grandiose and elaborate" gala, noting, "It was on this occasion that one of the most critical among the store's guests, Mrs. Edna Woolman Chase, editor of Vogue, expressing the sentiment of the store's starry-eyed clientele, told the local press:
I dreamed all my life of the perfect store for women. Then I saw Neiman Marcus, and my dream came true.
— Edna Woolman Chase, editor of Vogue (1936), quoted in Commentary 1957
In 1929 the store began offering menswear. During the 1930s and 1940s Neiman Marcus began to include less expensive clothing lines along with its high-end items, in response to the Great Depression and following war years. Between 1942 and 1944, sales at Neiman Marcus grew from $6 million to $11 million. Despite a major fire in 1946, the store continued to profit.
Herbert Marcus, Sr., died in 1950, and Carrie Neiman died two years later, leaving Stanley Marcus in charge of the company's operations.
The 1950s saw the addition of a $1.6 million store on Preston Road, a 63,000-square-foot (5,900 m2) plant with decor "inspired by the art and culture of Southwestern Indians" and "colors ... copied from Indian weaving, pottery, and sand paintings"; the themed decor included Kachina figures on colored-glass murals and an Alexander Calder mobile named "Mariposa," the Spanish word for butterfly. Art likewise was used as inspiration for Stanley Marcus' seasonal campaigns to solicit new colors in fabrics, as he did the year that he borrowed 20 Paul Gauguin paintings — many of which had never been publicly exhibited — from collectors around the world and had the vivid colors translated into dyes for wool, silk, and leather. Area teachers cited the Gauguin exhibits as spurring a dramatic increase in art study.
In the 1950s and 1960s Gittings operated a portrait studio in Neiman Marcus. Clients included Hope Portocarrero, Lyndon Johnson, Howard Hughes, and the Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and his family.
The company continued its extravagant marketing efforts (including the launch of His and Her gifts in the famous Christmas Book) with the inauguration of Fortnight in 1957. The Fortnight was an annual presentation of fashions and culture from a particular country, held in late October and early November of each year, and was one of the most anticipated events in Dallas. It brought fashion, dignitaries, celebrities, exotic food and extravagant celebrations to the downtown store for 29 years.
Neiman Marcus opened its first store outside the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex in downtown Houston in 1957. The freestanding store was later replaced with a new anchor store located in the Houston Galleria in 1970. In 1965 the Preston Center store was closed and a new store, more than twice as big, was opened at NorthPark Center. Another branch in Fort Worth was also opened. By 1967 the four Neiman Marcus stores in operation were generating annual sales of $58.5 million, and the company's profit for that year was in excess of $2 million. In 1968 the company merged with Broadway-Hale Stores, Inc., which enabled Neiman Marcus to expand at a much faster pace than would have been possible as an independent entity. In 1971, the first Neiman Marcus outside Texas opened in Bal Harbour, Florida. In subsequent years stores opened in over 30 cities across the United States, including Atlanta, Beverly Hills, Boston, Chicago, Las Vegas, Minneapolis, San Francisco and St. Louis. In 1988 the company's name was officially changed from Neiman-Marcus to Neiman Marcus and the current logo was adopted.
In the late 1990s, the company started a small boutique called the "Galleries of Neiman Marcus" which sold jewelry, gifts, and home accessories. The concept struggled and ultimately all three locations, Seattle, Cleveland, and Phoenix, were shuttered. Some believe the locations were wrong and Neiman Marcus officials have hinted the concept might be resurrected. In 1999, neimanmarcus.com, and the store's online gift registry, debuted under the control of Neiman Marcus Group's Neiman Marcus Direct division.
Stanley Marcus died on January 22, 2002. He had served as president and chairman of the board for the company. Marcus had been the architect behind the fashion shows, New York advertising for a strictly regional chain, in-store art exhibits, and the Christmas catalog with its outlandish His-and-Hers gifts, including vicuña coats, a pair of airplanes, "Noah's Ark"[not in citation given] (including pairs of animals), camels, and live tigers.
Over the last 20 years, ownership of Neiman Marcus has passed through several hands. In June 1987, the company was spun off from its retail parent, Carter Hawley Hale Stores, and became a publicly listed company. General Cinema, later to become Harcourt General, still had a roughly 60% controlling interest until 1999, when Neiman Marcus was fully spun off from its parent company. On May 2, 2005, Neiman Marcus Group was the subject of a leveraged buyout (LBO), selling itself to two private equity firms, Texas Pacific Group and Warburg Pincus.
The "Neiman-Marcus Collection," comprising early account books, advertising and Christmas Catalog layouts, files on charity activities, past awards and presentations, and a collection of Stanley Marcus's personal memorabilia, among many other items, is located in the Texas & Dallas History & Archives Division, 7th Floor, Main Library, Dallas Public Library, where it may be consulted by researchers.
Lloyd E. Lenard (1922–2008) wrote a master's degree thesis on the impact of Neiman Marcus on the American Southwest while he was a student at the University of Missouri at Columbia. Neiman Marcus hired Lenard to its management training program, but he soon returned to his native Louisiana, where he worked, first in advertising, and then insurance.
Unlike many of its department-store contemporaries, Neiman Marcus is still in operation today under the original name and is still headquartered in the city where it began. The Neiman Marcus Group comprises the Specialty Retail stores division — which includes Neiman Marcus Stores and Bergdorf Goodman — Cusp (a contemporary boutique format) and the Direct Marketing division, Neiman Marcus Direct. These retailers offer upscale assortments of apparel, accessories, jewelry, beauty and decorative home products. The company operates 41 Neiman Marcus stores across the United States and two Bergdorf Goodman stores, in Manhattan. Neiman Marcus' largest market is the South Florida MSA, where they operate five stores. The company also operates 28 Last Call clearance centers and two Horchow Finale Furniture Outlets. These store operations total more than five million square feet (500,000 m²) gross. Competitors in the luxury retail segment include Bloomingdale's, Lord & Taylor, Saks Fifth Avenue, Barneys New York, Nordstrom and Von Maur.
Neiman Marcus Direct conducts both print catalog and online operations under the Neiman Marcus, Horchow and Bergdorf Goodman brand names. Under the Neiman Marcus brand, Neiman Marcus Direct primarily offers women's apparel, accessories and home furnishings. Horchow offers upscale home furnishings, linens, decorative accessories and tabletop items. They have also launched a new blog [(www.insite.neimanmarcus.com)] outlining the latest news in the fashion world and beyond.
Until recently, The Neiman Marcus Group owned majority interest in Kate Spade LLC, a manufacturer of handbags and accessories. In October 2006, the company purchased all minority interest for approximately $59.4 million, and in November 2006 sold 100% ownership to Liz Claiborne, Inc. for approximately $121.5 million. Another recent divestiture was a majority interest in Gurwitch Products LLC, which manufactures Laura Mercier cosmetics, to Alticor Inc., for approximately $40.8 million.
There are 42 Neiman Marcus stores in Arizona, California, Colorado, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington, and Virginia. The newest opened in Walnut Creek, California, in March 2012.
In the fall of 2004, Neiman Marcus launched a new store within a store called The Showroom of Neiman Marcus. This department sells furniture and home collections previously only available through the Neiman Marcus catalogues The Horchow Collection and NM by Mail. The eight Neiman Marcus stores that house the collection are located in Plano-Dallas MSA (Willow Bend), San Francisco (Union Square), Scottsdale (Fashion Square), Boston (Back Bay), Chicago (Michigan Avenue), Oak Brook (Oakbrook Center), Miami (Bal Harbour Shops) and Minneapolis (Nicollet Mall).
Horchow, a furniture brand owned by Neiman Marcus, is sold in a limited number of Neiman Marcus locations. There are also Horchow Finale Stores, with two locations. Though Horchow items are also found in Neiman Marcus Last Call stores, the Horchow Finale stores focus on furniture & home items. The two remaining Horchow Finale Stores are in the Dallas, Texas area. The original Horchow Finale location closed in 2009 to make way for the George W. Bush Presidential Library. The Inwood Village location of Horchow Finale became a showcase Neiman Marcus Last Call in March 2010. The two Horchow Finale stores are both located in the Dallas – Fort Worth Metroplex - Grapevine, Texas and Plano, Texas.
Neiman Marcus Last Call Clearance Center is Neiman Marcus's outlet store. They are located throughout the United States at a number of outlet centers, with many found in outlet centers operated by The Mills Corporation and Chelsea Premium Outlets. They range from 20,000 - 45,000 square feet (4,200 m2) of selling space and sell women's, men's and children's apparel, shoes, jewelry, handbags, furniture, luggage, gifts and home accessories that were previously sold in Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman stores, on NeimanMarcus.com, and in the Horchow catalog at discounts of 30% to 65% off original Neiman Marcus and catalog prices.
Neiman Marcus credit card holders receive an additional 5% discount off their entire purchase at Last Call Clearance Centers when they use their Neiman Marcus credit card (other credit cards including American Express, MasterCard, and Visa are also accepted). The 36 Last Call stores are in Arizona (1), California (7), Colorado (1), Florida (4), Georgia (1), Illinois (1), Maryland (2), Michigan (1), Nevada (1), New Jersey (2), New York (2), Pennsylvania (2), Texas (9) and Virginia (2).
Neiman Marcus has expanded is contemporary department, "Cusp," by placing the "shop-in-shops" in all of its current stores. In addition, there are six brick-and-mortar Cusp locations throughout the U.S., including California (1), District of Columbia (1), Illinois (2), Massachusetts (1) and Virginia (1). Cusp also has a large e-commerce component.
Bergdorf Goodman operates technically from two stores, the main store and a men's store, located directly across from each other on Fifth Avenue in New York. The main store has eight floors of clothing, goods and homewear.
Neiman Marcus sold its store credit card business to HSBC in mid-2005; however, Neiman Marcus sued HSBC over fees and interest rates in March 2008. The lawsuit was settled in May 2008. Fifty percent of Neiman's transactions are conducted using their private-label cards because Neiman Marcus only accepted its proprietary store credit cards and American Express until late 2011. Neiman Marcus now accepts Visa, American Express cards, cash or check in their stores.
According to the April 26, 2007 issue of The Wall Street Journal, Neiman Marcus is testing a co-branded credit card issued by HSBC with some of their top customers. The card, which runs on the American Express network, was expected to have been issued in 2008. The settled lawsuit between Neiman Marcus and HSBC may have delayed the new co-branded card's full launch.
On October 27, 2011, the company announced that it would begin accepting MasterCard and Visa credit cards at its stores beginning November 1, 2011.
Since 1939, Neiman Marcus has issued an annual Christmas catalog, which gets much free publicity from the national media for a tradition of unusual and extravagant gifts not sold in its stores. Some have included the 'his and hers' themed item, trips and cars (see below).
In 1952, Stanley Marcus introduced a new tradition of having extravagant and unusual gifts in each year's Christmas catalog, The Christmas Book; the idea was sparked when journalist Edward R. Murrow contacted Marcus to ask if the store would be offering anything unusual that might interest his radio listeners; Marcus invented on the spot an offering of a live Black Angus bull accompanied by a sterling silver barbecue cart, subsequently altering the catalog to include his new idea, priced at $1,925. At one point, the Neiman Marcus Christmas catalog carried the distinction of being the item most stolen from recipients' mailboxes, prompting a Chicago postmaster to suggest the company switch to enclosing the catalogs in plain brown wrappers.
Other Fantasy Gifts:
The Christmas Book is available at stores for $15. However, the $15 will be credited back to customers with their first purchase from the catalog.
In 1961 Neiman-Marcus in Dallas was one of two stores in the nation — the other being Wanamaker's in Philadelphia — to offer computer-based assistance in selecting Christmas gifts. The process worked by comparing information on the recipient to a computerized list of the 2,200 items available at Neiman-Marcus, then providing a printout of the 10 best suggestions. One person testing the computer filled out the questionnaire as if he were President John F. Kennedy shopping for gifts in excess of $1,000 for his wife; the computer suggested a yacht.
During the Apollo 8 mission in December 1968, Marilyn Lovell, wife of astronaut Jim Lovell, who was the Command Module Pilot, received, as a Christmas present, a mink coat that was delivered to her by a Neiman Marcus driver in a Rolls-Royce car. The coat was wrapped in royal blue wrapping paper with two Styrofoam balls — one for the Earth and the other for the Moon — and had a card that read, "To Marilyn, from the Man in the Moon."
In 2012, Neiman Marcus partnered up with Target Corporation to create a holiday collection featuring 24 designers from the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA). The 50-piece collection will feature apparel, accessories and even some gifts for dogs.
Neiman Marcus has often offered automobiles in its holiday catalogs. These are usually coordinated with manufacturers as a publicity tool, though the cars themselves are normally special versions unavailable from other sources and produced in limited numbers.
The store is featured in an urban legend involving a supposed recipe for its popular chocolate chip cookie. In the legend, a woman and her daughter enjoy a cookie while shopping at Neiman Marcus in Dallas, Texas, and ask for the recipe. The waiter informs her there will be a "two-fifty" charge, which the woman interprets as $2.50. Upon receiving her VISA statement, she is shocked to discover she has been charged $250.00 instead. In revenge, she photocopies the recipe and urges her friends to distribute it for free to everyone they know so that the store will make no further profit on its sale. Because the story typically was passed along as a photocopy, it falls in the legend subcategory of Xeroxlore. Later, with the advent of the Internet, it reemerged as an infamous chain e-mail, "Cookie revenge".
Folklorists have pointed out three chief holes in the story:
Although the story is untrue, Neiman Marcus published a cookie recipe to quell rumors. There is also another cookie recipe that is also published on the company's website that is slightly different from the above. Kevin Garvin wrote the recipe in 1995. It is featured on the company's website for free. It also is in the Neiman Marcus Cookbook.65
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