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

Heidi Dillon is the Founder of The Fashionistas.

Tansky-Burt.jpgAs 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


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15 thoughts on “Neiman Marcus is UPSET with its customers for not shopping!?!?”

  1. Heidi, Thanks for these timely thoughts.When others are suffering, it seems so shallow to buy clothes, you don’t need. I was talking to a friend yesterday 0n this subject, who isn’t the fashionista I am, but a nice person non the less, and she said, I could go 5 years without buying clothes and still be the best dressed!! I was flattered, but a little embarassed too. I have nothing on my Neimans charge for the first time since about 1989 I think!! On the lighter side, I am so glad I got the Louboutin simple pumps before the bottom fail out of the economy!! Mr. Tanskys comments were poorly thought out and actually quiet mean.

  2. Great blog entry! Mr. Tansky’s comments are quite inappropriate. I am sure there will be an apology coming soon. I have not shopped in a couple of months, primarily out of gilt. I just cannot justify buying more clothes when my closets are full and economy is in a huge slump. As far as eager sales associates go, we as consumers have to be better about editing our purchases. After all, you always know, deep down, if something looks good or not. I have been fortunate to have the most fabulous SA at Neimans in Chicago and there have not been any “fashion blunders” for the past 5 years. Ladies, don’t be suckered into purchases by sweet smiling SAs, find someone you trust. Just my 2cents.

  3. I agree with your post 100% Heidi. I make my purchases very carefully now and make sure I absolutely love the piece. I have a closet full of pieces that make me wonder what was I thinking. Having the 70% off sales this past season will make everyone think before buying at full price.

  4. Heidi and Julie absolutely agree! I am by no means perfect when it comes to shopping and getting sucked into buying something, but there needs to be some kind of guideline, like do you NEED it? does it make you feel fabulous, does it look fab on you? is it on sale? etc…I de-cluttered over the holidays and my closet feels so much lighter and well-trimmed. very feng-shui to get rid of all those outfits that make you feel/look not your best. 🙂 and ignore that silly man from neimans…what the hell is he trying to do? LOSE even more customers? make fun of the rich people that are trying to do damage control? I don’t want to spend both my husband and mines hard-earned money on extravagance during these times…I think keeping a house and paying the bills is little higher on the priority list.

  5. I think the message is way bigger than an insult. If the customer does not

    shop and continues not to shop there will be no NEIMANS, BARNEYS or anywhere else .

    – There is a way bigger picture than careful choices. It is efffecting

    small business’s , jobs and so on down the line. I think his level of frustration is

    high and words need to be chosen with a bit more thought…

  6. I’m hoping these comments were taken out of context. I worked at the NM corporate office for several years, and Mr. Tansky was never anything but gracious. At a smaller company like NM (less than 40 full-line stores), laying off 400 employees was hard for everyone, and after January’s results, there are certainly more layoffs to come. Tough business all around.

  7. An unnamed SA, who is on friendly terms with me, confided in me that the company also doesn’t think they are selling enough. Seems this message was received from both ends. Mr. Tansky’s wallet may not be too strained, and we are cutting back as need be, but a SA in Neiman’s, who may be a single mom, is in trouble. My heart goes out…

  8. Heidi, I echo your sentiments 100%. My Bergdorf, Neiman, Barney’s charges all have a 0 balance for the first time in years. My husband used to laughingly kid me to stop spending as much as I did. Now, he says that my spending could put our lifestyle as we know it in jeopardy. I fully understand the consequences of my actions and have finally stopped spending.

    On occasion, if I see a bag or shoes that I must have I carefully indulge. I make sure that no similar item exists in my vast closet and only then will I purchase it. I have tons of clothing that I don’t love and that cost a pretty penny hanging in my closet because of pushy sales associates telling me how flattering and to die for that certain item was.

    I find myself wearing the same reliable LBD and feeling great in it rather than some fashion victim must-have that I squandered my hard earned money on. These hard times have brought most of us fashionistas down to earth.

    I can’t say that I am completely free of my fashion addiction, but I am very conscious of what I buy and much more frugal about it…

  9. Heidi, Kay…I know both of you said that you have a bunch of basically unworn (or barely worn) designer clothes in your closet that you don’t love…have you thought about either selling this stuff on ebay (if you have time) or consigning it (if you don’t)? Even if you give it to charity, you can get a tax write off (worth it if you have a particularly big designer stash that you’re giving away). If you get rid of the excess, not only can you make some cash off it, but you’ll also be able to find the stuff that you love in your closet more quickly.

    Regarding buying stuff based on sales associates recommendations…I would say, don’t! If you’re unsure of an item but think that it might look good, buy it, then have your most honest friend give you an opinion of it. If you don’t love it, and she doesn’t say it looks great, take it back! Have a designated folder where you save receipts from ALL your clothing purchases, and know the return policies of the stores you buy from. (btw, bloomingdales has the best return policy. Apparently you can return stuff that you bought over a year ago!)

  10. You know what else is upsetting. Many of the designers are holding samples sales in NY and discounting at 90% off. There is no way that I will ever pay full price in their stores again. The stores are cannibalizing their own brand and the prices really just got out of control. Why is a Loubiton starting at 800 and a Manolo somehow seemed more affordable.

    I want the economy to come back, but we also need a reset to the prices. I hear you on spending less. I looked in my closet this fall and was shocked about the things that I didn’t even remember purchasing. I totally forgot. So I cleaned it out and gave away things to my friends who would enjoy the pieces. It felt good to share and it also feels pretty wonderful to have a wardrobe of only the things that I need or love

  11. That’s a very good point – sample sales and all of these invite only sites are training all of us to wait for the sale. That, combined with the RIDICULOUS price increases over the two years have seriously curbed my shopping. There are no great designer bags under two grand, and you’re hardpressed to even get a “bridge” bag under 1000.

    All that said, there isn’t really a lot that I’d love to have right now, even if price were no object. I’d pick up a great bright gator bag, but that’s about it. Hopefully the recession will bring out brighter colors and more statement pieces, and not this blah thing I’m seeing in the stores right now.

  12. I used to buy a lot of bags. The current one I’m using was actually bought last year & still using it now. I congratulate myself!

  13. I am so happy that I have paid off my Neimans charge card. I have also curbed my shopping, and I was a big Neimans, Barney’s and Saks shopper. It was so “yesterday”, with all of that consumption, and the stores are just going to have to realize that this is the world today, and when they mark a designer shoe or bag up they might have to take a gulp when they put it on sale for 30% off and it doesn’t move. Welcome to the real world Neimans………..


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