SCOUTS HONOR: May Co.'s David C. Farrell, designer Nicole Miller and Avon's James E. Preston were honored by the Girl Scout Council of Greater New York at New York's Waldorf-Astoria Monday night, and the executives returned the favor by generating $1.2 million in donations for the organization.

Asked about business, Farrell, chairman and chief executive officer of May Department Stores Co., said, "We could always use a few more customers."

As to the latest buzz that May might acquire Mercantile Stores or some Macy's units, Farrell said he would answer all of those questions at May's annual meeting Friday.

Marjorie Deane, a chairman of the event, claimed $1.2 million was the largest sum ever raised for children at a non-illness-specific event.

"You can raise money for sickness, because people think they might get sick some day," she said. "But it's not as easy to raise money to help keep little girls off the streets."

More than a dozen uniformed Girl Scouts attended, and a scout choir entertained the crowd of 1,300. Miller, who said she was not a Girl Scout when she was a child, nevertheless was wearing a sage green dress she made for the event, and Preston, chairman and ceo of Avon Products, said he was glad to see so many future customers.

NM SENDS ST. JOHN: Continuing its strategy to boost designer sales through mailers, Neiman Marcus has sent a 10-page brochure featuring St. John merchandise to 150,000 customers. The book is expected to generate at least $1 million in sales.

The foldout mailer was produced by St. John and depicts black, white and gold sportswear, eveningwear and accessories, about half of which is exclusive to Neiman's. All stores carry the goods and will respond to mail-order requests.

St. John runs neck-and-neck with Escada as the leading designer line at Neiman's.

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