Neiman Marcus will close its Gaviidae Common store by July 2013–a big blow to downtown Minneapolis, and Twin Cities fashion cred. But what really stings: Neiman Marcus conducted a “careful study of the market,” analyzing potential alternative locations and decided it did not want to be in Minnesota any longer. Period.
“As it is so rare that we close a store, the difficult decision was based on a great deal of thought,” said Karen Katz, president and ceo of the Dallas-based Neiman Marcus Group, in a statement on Monday. “We very much value the relationships we have established in this market. However, the store did not meet our long-term operational goals.”
A team from headquarters broke the news to the Minneapolis store’s 107 employees this morning. They will be offered transfers or severance packages. Neiman Marcus opened in Minneapolis in 1991.
That the downtown store is underperforming can’t come as a huge surprise to anyone who has walked through it, even over the lunch hour. Often it seems there are more shoppers crammed into the Len Druskin Outlet at City Center than the entire 118,000 square foot Neiman Marcus. Minnesotans love a bargain. And there just aren’t enough Minneapolis CEOs to buy Manolo Blahnik heels and Etro dresses.
Twin Cities shoppers have grown accustom to losing luxury retailers and being told we don’t have fancy enough taste to support the upper echelon of retail. Still, this one is tough to swallow for a couple of reasons: it feels like the final nail in the coffin for Gaviidae, which has been bleeding boutiques for years now. And unlike Bloomingdale’s, which never really understood our market, or seemed to try, Neimans was a part of the community. Its personal shoppers are legendary. The store has a local publicity director (Bloomie’s never did; Macy’s doesn’t even have one anymore) who coordinates events, sits on boards and is totally involved with the local fashion community.
I think we all would have loved to see Neimans at Southdale, Ridgedale or Mall of America. The Nordstrom formula may just be more our speed in Minnesota–designer goods are there, but with far more moderate merchandise mixed in than a Neimans offers.
We’ll dust off our discount denim and get over Neimans eventually. Maybe we need to accept that the Twin Cities really isn’t right for a luxury department store. And maybe other enterprising merchants, national and local, will see opportunity where others can’t, and bring us new concepts. There’s no shortage of exciting boutiques and new chains moving into town right now.
It will be business as usual at Neiman Marcus until the end of the year. Fall merchandise is already arriving. In January, the slow process of dismantling the store will begin.