Neiman's clearance center: On our doorstep, who knew? - 8/04

Smart Marriages ® cmfce
Wed Sep 1 22:33:54 EDT 2004

subject: Neiman's clearance center: On our doorstep, who knew? - 8/04


> Diane!!!!
> Look at this!!! I was happy that you decided to repeat in Dallas in 2005 -
> loved the hotel, but now I'm thrilled. I put the New York Times Style Fall
> Fashion magazine aside Sunday, and just read it tonight. I couldn't believe
> this article. I actually broke away from the conference for a day to visit
> the ORIGINAL Neimans which is just a few blocks from the conference hotel, but
> I had no idea this place existed. No one tells you these things. We'll have
> to charter a bus!
> Mitzi

I also had NO idea. I'll post this article on the "local attractions" page.
Grapevine is about 35 mins from the hotel - out toward the DFW airport.
Maybe that's the way to do it, take a taxi to the Clearance Center and then
a taxi to the airport. Plan your flight at the end of the day and spend a
whole day shopping. - diane

> The New York Times
> August 29, 2004
> Neiman Markdown
>> And not just anywhere, but at the mother of all mall stores, Neiman Marcus's
>> Last Call clearance center, in Grapevine, Tex. . . .
>> The Grapevine Mills mall is in the middle of nowhere, between Dallas and Fort
>> Worth. It's 1.5 million square feet of ''exciting retail space,''. . . .
>> Inside, the vastness threatens to overwhelm; the S.S. needs a bit of time to
>> catch her breath; glittering prizes are not easily unearthed when one is
>> unfamiliar with the turf. Some Western women are already on the prowl;
>> bleached, weathered, slim in their Burberrys and bright nail polish. Plump
>> suburban women in bad shoes are having a better time of it in the lingerie
>> department, sniggering at the nymphet skimpiness of the sleepwear.
> All modesty aside, I am the greatest shopper in the world. Maybe two or three
> other women out there come close, but enough about them. This is not misplaced
> arrogance or pathetic self-aggrandizing; it's simply a matter of fact. Whereas
> others shop in a desperate delirium akin to sugar shock, or soldier on with
> humorless determination as if the species depended on their ability to come up
> with the perfect, white spread-collar shirt, I focus in on the goods at hand.
> Steadily gazing, infinitely serene, alert to the unexpected, I strike only
> when the look, fit and price are unassailably right. Samurai shopping, when
> practiced with due diligence and a light touch, becomes instinctual and swift,
> thoughtless in true Zen fashion.
> Zen fashion is not an oxymoron; Zen fashion means that every article of
> clothing has the potential to reach sartorial satori; every ensemble is a text
> message proclaiming your sparkling individuality or your sad acquiescence to
> the mediocre. Samurai shopping means wherever you go, there you are, dressed
> perfectly for polite society or combat in the erogenous zones. A samurai never
> says, ''I'm sorry''; only, ''I'm sorry I didn't buy more when I had the
> opportunity.'' If you see Zen as a tool for self-knowledge, if you strive for
> ingenuity as you shop, you will more than earn a black belt; you'll earn a
> blue belt, or a studded rhinestone belt, or any belt that complements your
> look.
> The samurai shopper seizes every opportunity to hone her skills and sharpen
> her business acumen, to develop eye-hand-wallet coordination that works in the
> poshest of places or the dreariest of dollar stores. One great challenge is
> the clearance center, where couture rejects and boutique bombs are lifted from
> the fashion foreground and jammed onto cramped racks for one last chance at
> glory before heading off to debasement.
> The discount challenge is manifold: first, there are tons of stuff to wade
> through; all that hanger pushing and garment grabbing -- feeling the fabric,
> eyeballing the size, visualizing the accessories, fretting about the right
> shoe, blithering at the seemingly random prices. Then there is the time-money
> axis: how much or little do you have? Samurai Shopper's Golden Rule states
> that it's either time or money. If you have the money, you don't need to waste
> the time doing discount; if you have the time, you won't have to spend a
> fortune looking good. But what if you have both the time and the money? As the
> greatest shopper in the world, I acquired both, simply by mixing business with
> pleasure. O.K., it wasn't at all simple, but in the end, I got paid to shop; I
> got paid to shop; I got paid to shop.
> And not just anywhere, but at the mother of all mall stores, Neiman Marcus's
> Last Call clearance center, in Grapevine, Tex. The stern budgetary restraints
> were not a problem. The samurai accepts reality, and looks askance at the
> fantasies of those knuckleheads who think there's nothing to be had that's
> simultaneously fashionable and inexpensive. The fact that I had to travel
> 1,400 miles to shop was a tad tiresome, but all in a day's work. Besides,
> going home with one or two trophy items of incalculable chic held out the
> promise of rapture, joy -- or as that big-shot banker once said, irrational
> exuberance.
> The Grapevine Mills mall is in the middle of nowhere, between Dallas and Fort
> Worth. It's 1.5 million square feet of ''exciting retail space,'' or, if
> you're from New York, hell. Huge, peculiar structures announce the various
> entrances to the inside: a giant football, a cowboy hat, things so surreal
> that they'll remain indescribable. Early-morning joggers do the mall before
> the stores actually open, passing through automated doors that talk each time
> someone enters or leaves the premises. In Spanish and English, Section 30.06
> of the Penal Code announces that you can't enter the property with a concealed
> handgun. Good thing they posted that; I feel so much safer. In my samurai
> search for the unusual, the neglected, the overlooked and the distinctive, I
> have never seen anything quite like this.
> Inside, the vastness threatens to overwhelm; the S.S. needs a bit of time to
> catch her breath; glittering prizes are not easily unearthed when one is
> unfamiliar with the turf. Some Western women are already on the prowl;
> bleached, weathered, slim in their Burberrys and bright nail polish. Plump
> suburban women in bad shoes are having a better time of it in the lingerie
> department, sniggering at the nymphet skimpiness of the sleepwear. A scruffy
> European in a Greek sailor hat and his waifish wife finger some Manolo ankle
> boots. The staff members continually circle the floor asking, ''How y'all
> doin' today?'' I feel like our ex-Mayor Ed Koch: ''How'm I doin'? How'm I
> doin'?'' This is not a good feeling, but the familiar rites of shopping soon
> help me focus.
> All the brands are top drawer: Yves Saint Laurent, Dolce & Gabbana, Stella
> McCartney, Issey Miyake, Armani, Prada and more. Like all discount emporiums,
> the merchandise here is one of a kind; if it's not in your size, tough.
> Without listing the details of each purchase, trust me when I proclaim the day
> a total success. The biggest thrill was reserved for a black silk caftan with
> bright floral embroidery, fringed at the bottom like those vintage shawls,
> perfect for evenings spent at home in good company. It was Neiman Marcus's own
> label, and started off priced at $400. It was then reduced to $138; I was
> absolutely fine with that number. There was an orange stamp on the ticket,
> however, so I inquired of one of the relentlessly cheery saleswomen what an
> orange stamp signified. ''Seventy-five percent off the last price,'' she
> trilled. So the caftan was mine for $34.50, with 10 percent off that if I
> applied for a Neiman Marcus charge card. Needless to say, I did exactly that.
> From Robert Clergerie mules to Celine black studded sandals and a
> raffia-and-leather purse that looked like a Carmen Miranda headpiece, I was on
> fire. Satiated and more than a little smug, I collapsed in a chair with a chai
> latte and a sack filled with finds. Shopping has always been an exercise to
> keep you fit and your spirits high, but this was exceptional. Normally, I
> would caution you, dear reader, to beware of places that arouse, however
> slightly, your expectations of bagging a bargain or scoring an undiscovered
> gem. ''Expect the worst and hope for the best'' is usually a prudent attitude.
> And bargain stores in particular are designed to pump up your expectations and
> lower substantially your threshold of discernment.
> But we born-and-bred New Yorkers aren't used to discount stores being so
> organized and neat, with private fitting rooms and a friendly staff ready to
> hold items, discuss details, lead you through the miles of tasty couture. This
> Last Call clearance center turned out to be a true, out-of-city experience; it
> went from hellish to heaven with a swipe of my new credit card.
> Would you expect less from the greatest shopper in the world?

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