Monday, September 10, 2007

Happy Birthday, Neiman Marcus!

I know that to a lot of people Neiman Marcus represents a lot of negative things about our society---conspicuous consumption, snobbishness, elitism, etc. But to me, Neiman Marcus is much much more than all of that. You don't get to be a 100-year-old store without something a little special.

I grew up in Dallas where Neiman Marcus began. My parents would take me to the downtown store to look at the magical window displays. Especially at Christmas. On a few special occasions, I even got to dress up and go to the Zodiac tea room where all the glamorous "ladies who lunch" went. When the holidays drew near, I would haunt the mailbox waiting for the Neiman Marcus Wish Book. Nowhere else could I find such fanciful holiday offerings. As soon as the Wish Book hit my mailbox, I would grab it and flip to the His/Her gift for that year. When I got older, my father started working in the Neiman Marcus Christmas store over the holiday season. We would always pick out a special ornament or other treat to buy using his discount. My father really loved working there. Another special thing about Neiman Marcus is the emphasis on customer service. My mom once gave me Stanley Marcus' book called MINDING THE STORE that outlined his philosopy about retail customer service.

But Neiman Marcus was also much more than shopping. They used to have this wonderful multimedia experience called the Neiman Marcus Showcase at the downtown Dallas store where you could see the history of Neiman Marcus. It felt like Disneyland to me. And then there was Fortnight. Each Fortnight would focus on a different country. We would mark our calendars with the special events that would be taking place highlighting the country of focus that particular year. There were food events, entertainment and special gift items. I remember for the China Fortnight, you could buy a Sharpei dog. I wish they still had Fortnight. It was always so wonderful.

When I walk into a Neiman Marcus store, I feel like a princess. Especially going up the escalator surrounded by cascading butterflies. You don't have to buy anything. Looking is half the fun. As Tiffany's was Holly Golightly's pick-me-up, Neiman Marcus is mine.

So, Happy Birthday Old Friend! I'll be seeing you soon!


Gary said...

What great memories! I haven't read the book you mentioned, but I'm guessing that Marcus had a real passion for his work. How else could he have made shopping at his store a true experience?

It's a good reminder for everyone -do it right if you're going to do it at all.

The Budget Babe said...

That's how the Marshall Field's on State Street in downtown Chicago used to be for us--a magical, fanciful wonderland, especially around the holidays. Sadly, it was bought out by Macy's, and I refuse to shop there now on principle. :(

Malady said...

Hi Budget Babe!! Love your blog!

I remember Marshall Field's! I think we had a few in Texas along with Sanger Harris which got bought out by Foley's. For awhile, Marshall Field's still had a catalog they would send out .I wonder if it still exists?!

The Budget Babe said...

tanks! i am a new fan of your blog as well! :)

though it pains me to say this, if you're ever in chicago, you should still visit the old marshall field's aka macy's because the building is historic and has a breathtaking tiffany dome.

im not sure about a field's catalog... but like you, i also LOVE the NM holiday catalog. it's perfect for dreamers like myself.

ive also been known to splurge on gifts for others at NM...i bought an adorable heirloom quality sterling silver piggy bank for my nephew. where else could you find a treasure like that?

Malady said...

Hey Budget Babe!

I will definitely go there if I'm in Chicago. I think a sterling silver piggy bank sounds absolutely delightful!

As for Viggo, there is something so sexy about a rugger thinking man! I haven't seen his new book. I'll have to watch for that!