Minding the Store
By Stanley Marcus
*A Book Review*
by Michael C. Gray
© 2021 by Michael C. Gray
Minding the Store is Stanley Marcus's autobiography, a large part of which is the story of Neiman-Marcus, including the philosophy that made the store a household name. Stanley Marcus succeeded his father, Herbert Marcus as the chief executive officer at Neiman-Marcus, the iconic store for luxury clothing and gifts.
When Neiman-Marcus was founded in Dallas, Texas, Dallas was an agricultural community. Most of the "big money" in the area was from cattle ranching. Then the oil business developed, bringing significant wealth to the area. Wealthy customers wanted luxury goods, so Neiman Marcus catered to them.
An early statement of business philosophy by Herbert Marcus was "There is never a good sale for Neiman-Marcus unless it's a good buy for the customer." Neiman-Marcus views a sale as an individual transaction for a salesperson and a customer. The emphasis is on personal service and, in some cases, going to the extreme for customers, such as delivering a birthday present on time to a remote location.
Stanley Marcus said he never saw "consumers," but individual customers. The store keeps meticulous records of customer purchases and preferences. It also encourages customers to open charge accounts, which provides their contact information for promotions.
For many years, Neiman-Marcus only operated in its flagship store in Dallas. Eventually, satellite stores were opened across the U.S. (Just recently, 21 of the stores were closed in a bankruptcy reorganization due to the COVID-19 pandemic.)
Someone pointed out that Neiman-Marcus has characteristics of Old-World stores. Each community would have a cathedral (destination) with a store and a restaurant located on either side. Neiman-Marcus has a European design with a lot of marble and displays artwork, like a cathedral, and features fine dining and shopping.
Neiman-Marcus was one of the innovative stores creating annual events, like their Christmas fashion show or art exhibits, and featuring very expensive unique gifts in their annual Christmas catalogue, which generated great publicity. For example, one year the catalogue featured "His and Her" airplanes. (They sold a "Her" airplane.)
Stanley Marcus was very involved in the Dallas community. He was a political liberal in a conservative community. There were many supporters of McCarthy during the "communist under every couch" period. Lyndon Johnson was spat upon when he visited Dallas as Vice President. The community was horrified when John Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, creating a red stain on its reputation. Stanley Marcus published an open New Year's editorial letter in January 1964, "What's Right With Dallas", in the Dallas Morning News praising the community while suggesting how it could be improved. Each year he would write a community-oriented editorial letter, and would support local theater and art.
Get and study a copy of Minding the Store for valuable lessons on building a great business with great customer service and integrity.
Buy it online at Amazon.com: .
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