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. In the US, Neiman Marcus competes with luxury retailers Saks Fifth Avenue, Barneys New York, Lord & Taylor, Nordstrom, Bloomingdale’s and Von Maur. Neiman Marcus is currently owned by CPP Investment Board and Ares Management.
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Founding and early history
The Neiman Marcus Building is the headquarters and flagship store in Dallas, Texas.
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. Rather than take a chance on an unknown “sugary soda pop business”, the three entrepreneurs rejected the fledgling Coca-Cola company and chose instead to return to Dallas to found a retail business. 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 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. A late 1960s Christmas Book featured portraits of Wyatt Cooper, his wife Gloria Vanderbilt, and children Carter and Anderson Cooper.
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. Neiman Marcus also had a letter of intent to open a 120,000 square foot store in downtown Cleveland in 1992 as part of an anchor for the upscale Tower City Center. However, the project did not come to fruition, instead opening its concept store in the 1990s. In 1988 the company’s name was officially changed from Neiman-Marcus to Neiman Marcus and the current logo was adopted.
Neiman Marcus in Boston’s Copley Place
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. 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.
In August 2013, Women’s Wear Daily reported that the Neiman Marcus Group was prepearing for an initial public offering of its stock. In October 2013, the Neiman Marcus Group was sold for $6 billion to Ares Management and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board. In August 2015, the company again announced it was preparing for an initial public offering.
Neiman Marcus made headlines in November 2013 after the firm discovered a 25-carat rough diamond off Namibia’s coast, which was valued with a reserve price tag of $1.85 million. The diamond was referred to as the “Nam Diamond”.
Renaissance Tower is the headquarters of the Neiman Marcus Group, also in Dallas.
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 41 Neiman Marcus stores in Arizona, California, Colorado, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New York (White Plains), North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington, and Virginia. The newest opened in Walnut Creek, California, in March 2012. The Minneapolis store was closed in 2013.
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 seven 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).
Horchow, a furniture brand owned by Neiman Marcus, is sold in a limited number of Neiman Marcus locations. There is also Horchow Finale store, with a location in Grapevine, Texas. 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.
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.
The Christmas Book
“His and Hers” and “Fantasy” gifts
100th Anniversary Edition Christmas catalog 2007
In 1969 customers could buy a $10,600 kitchen computer to help with recipes
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 items, trips and cars.
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.
Other Christmas gifts
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 featured apparel, accessories and even some gifts for dogs.
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