Neiman Marcus is UPSET with its customers for not shopping!?!?

Originally published by Snob Essentials. Feb 6th, 2009

As a Dallas resident and long-time Neiman Marcus customer, I was shocked when I read Burt Tansky‘s (chairman, president, and CEO of Neiman’s) comments in Women’s Wear Daily. While at a recent industry seminar, Mr. Tansky stated “Now the rich have stopped shopping. I’m upset with our customer. A 401(k) is now a 201 (k). In some cases, it’s a 101(k). The alligator belts are tightening…Who knew a wallet could hibernate?”

He’s upset with his customers?? Is this the way to treat us after years of loyal shopping? It certainly isn’t the right thing to say if you want to maintain a good relationship with your clients.

Let’s imagine a scenario. Your husband comes home and says, “Honey, we just lost 1/3 or our life’s savings, so could you please stop buying clothes for a while?” Does Burt expect us to respond, “Sorry, but I can’t because Burt Tansky will be upset with me.”  (jump for more!)

Are we to refrain from being good stewards of our family resources and put at risk our financial well being and relationship with our husbands in order to appease the people at Neiman Marcus? Burt isn’t just upset with his customer, he’s upset with the husbands, too. He goes on to say, “Husbands used to say ‘Enough.’ Now they say ‘Don’t even think about it.’ After years of buying clothes (thanks to the helpful prodding of doting sales associates) that we don’t need, don’t fit properly, don’t flatter and that we will only wear once, maybe we shouldn’t think about it for a while. Walt Disney once said, “People spend money when and where they feel good.” People are not feeling particularly good right now and as a result, people are buying less- a lot less.

These dark times have caused me to reflect upon my own shopping habits. Thanks to the US Weekly’s of the world who fuel our celebrity-obsession, I bought into the idea that you couldn’t be seen twice in the same outfit. Celebrities can pull this off because the fabulous frocks they sport on the red carpet and at every envelope opening are loaned or given to them at no cost. Nobodys like me have to pay full price.

Back in the old days, long before the internet, fashionable women would purchase their seasonal wardrobes and wear their new pieces numerous times without shame. While looking over the racks of clothes in my closets, I realized that most of the things that I have purchased over the years don’t really look that good on me. I am not built like a super model – my shoulders are huge, my waist is on the thick side and my hips are narrow, so not every silhouette suites me.

Consequently, at any given time in any given store, there really are not that many things that I should even consider purchasing. However, thanks to sales associates who tell me how FABULOUS something looks (when it doesn’t) and the fear of wearing something more than once, my closets are glutted with beautiful designer clothes that should be worn by someone else. Now, when I find something that looks truly amazing on me, I wear it often. My sales associates are not as happy with me (and we know how Burt feels about it), but my husband is happier.