Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Advance peek inside the new Neiman Marcus

If you're a newcomer from one of the 19 states that already has a Neiman Marcus store, and you're a high-end shopper, you're probably happy that the Texas-based retailer is opening its first Carolinas store in Charlotte on Friday.

The store has already brought newcomers to the area - among its 200 employees are people who moved here from California, Minnesota, Texas, New Jersey, Florida and Illinois just for the chance to work there, said Kristine Ottens, the store's vice president and general manager.

I was among the media who got a preview of the 80,000 square-foot store at SouthPark mall, the 37th in the chain. One thing that distinguishes it from other Charlotte-area stores is its art collection. Following in the tradition of other Neiman Marcus stores, it has a collection of 151 works by regional artists. Five are equipped with video monitors shoppers can use to find out more about the artist and the work.

And then there's the merchandise. It's almost as carefully displayed as the art. It has the expected assortment of high-end designers - Armani, Prada, Chanel and more. And in the collections already available elsewhere, such as St. John, which has its own SouthPark boutique, there will be pieces exclusive to Neiman Marcus, our tour guide said.

Non-newcomers are well aware that this is just the latest addition to a years-long effort to build up the luxury offerings at SouthPark - the early pioneers included Tiffany & Co. and Coach.

I felt underdressed walking around as glamorous models showed off the store's fashions. I checked a few price tags and knew I wouldn't be doing much shopping there on my reporter's salary - I eyed a $2,900 red velvet evening dress and wished I had places to wear it to.

High points: The escalator atrium filled with glittering strands of butterflies made for a nice visual effect; and the home goods section has a funky artist-fashioned table and chairs made from kudzu vines.

The store opens to the public Friday at 10 a.m.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

No more having to go to Washington or Atlanta!

9:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is great news for Charlotte. I'll check it out when I visit over Thanksgiving.

10:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Alas, they only accept Amex, cash, personal check or a Neiman Marcus card. No Visa or Mastercard and forget Discover. Not even a Visa check card.

I'm a shopper. I mean a major shopper who makes trips to NYC, Vegas, LA and London just to shop for clothes you can't find in NC. And I will NOT be patronizing Neiman Marcus. Every time I've intended to spend my money in a Neiman Marcus, I was met with condescension and smugness from their employees, as though I was unworthy to shop there. Consequently, I'll keep holding my breath for a Saks or just fork out the airfare to find good customer service somewhere else.

11:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

12:06 anymous: I know exactly what you mean. I have never had a pleasant experience in any Neiman Marcus store I've ever visited. I walked up to the counter in the Atlanta store with almost two thousand dollars worth of clothes only to be sneered at when I tried to pay with a Visa, like I was trash. Altough, Nordstrom is getting almost as bad as far as dirty looks from employees these days, I do all my shopping online these days. My advice, don't go to Neiman Marcus unless you actually want to make yourself feel like crap.

11:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Its unfortunate that the earlier bloggers have had such bad experiences, as those do not represent the Neiman Marcus experience as a whole. In my experience their sales associates remember my taste, my body type and my preferences. They will call me when something I may like comes in.

Theacceptance of only certain forms of payment I can't speak for other than if you know they only accept those forms of prepared.

The sales associates are extremely knowledgeable about the products they are selling. The floral arrangements, windows, and displays are unparalleled.

I love Neiman Marcus and they have my loyalty.

12:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have also had insulting experiences at Neiman Marcus, in particular at the Atlanta and Las Vegas stores. I agree that their associates are probably very knowledgeable, but only to those they deem worthy of shopping there. Just because someone walks in wearing Old Navy doesn't mean they can't afford to buy Prada. I personally can't always be bothered to dress up to go shopping, and I shouldn't have to. I shouldn't have to deck myself out in Christian Louboutin, Chloe and Alexander McQueen just to be sure I get adequate customer service. I, too, refuse to endorse elitism by giving my money to Neiman Marcus. Besides, I can probably find what I want online for less with free shipping and no sales tax.

2:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To those that complain about not taking Visa or MC, I agree it's a pain, but their motivation is with the customers best interest at heart.

Visa and MC sell your information to pretty much anyone, so if you shop at NM, be prepared to be called by just about every tellmarketer, financial planner, real estate sales agent, etc. you can imagine.

AMEX doesn't do this, so that is why NM will accept them.

4:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the charlotte location is the 2nd smallest in the country. does anyone else find this hilarious?? charlotte is SO excited to get a neimans, just so they can try to prove that they are a 'big city'. i think it's cute.

4:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been waiting foir this store to open for a long time. Neiman Marcus is one of my favorite stores and SouthPark is one of my favorite malls. I'm not a high-end shopper, but I'm a retail fanatic. If you love good store design and above-average merchandising, you can't help but love NM.

The best part about NM SouthPark is that it won't be a watered-down verison of what the store is like in other markets, at least from what I can tell in the press releases and photos I've seen. And I've heard that if it catches on, there's a possiblity that the store could add a third story eventually, with even more great luxury merchandise.

6:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with Steven. I'm looking forward to this store not being watered down and hopefully eventually adding a third the way, I like your LiveMalls blog!

12:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I visited the newest Neiman Marcus today and was blown away! I was dressed down with kids in tow and had fantastic customer service, despite the fact that the kids were cranky....For those of you who are blogging without experiencing it for yourselves I say.....Don't knock it until you try it. Just because you had a bad expereince in another city doesn't mean you will in Charlotte. For those of you who haven't been wait until you see the shoe, handbag and cosmetic areas! Retail Nirvana.

3:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I plan on going to Neiman Marcus here in Charlotte. To look at the artwork as I plow my way towards the GAP and BR. Give me dirt cheap and friendly Marshalls over snooty Neiman Marcus. Their employees are pathetic wannabes. It's not like they could afford to shop there without the sales clerk discount. And they act like we should thank them and be incredibly grateful if they actually do their job by assisting us customers. GAG ME

3:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why are people making such a big deal over this? There's a Neiman Marcus in just about every descent size market in the U.S. What's next for Charlotte a Hard Rock Cafe? Seriously, some of you need to get a grip.

10:26 AM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home