By  on September 21, 2007

NATICK, Mass. — Neiman Marcus understands Boston-area etiquette.

The retailer's opening gala for its new store here last Friday night ran concurrent with the first game of the season's final Red Sox-Yankees series at Fenway Park, which would be enough to deflate most parties. But Neiman's put out word that it would turn a jewelry counter into an impromptu sports bar with two flat-screen televisions, bowls of nuts and popcorn and waiters circling with trays of hot dogs and mustard. The crowd stayed, but the hometown team lost to its bitter rival.

The gala raised money for four Natick-area charities: The Cam Neely Foundation for Cancer Care, the DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park, The Walden Woods Project and The Center for the Arts in Natick.

Neiman Marcus Stores president and chief executive officer Karen Katz said the brand benefits from already having regional roots as it opens in Natick Collection, a new luxury mall about 20 miles west of Neiman's downtown Boston store.

"Boston has a great appetite for luxury goods and the store [downtown] has been a very good store for us,'' she said. "When this opportunity came up, we couldn't pass at the chance to build on what we've established."

Neiman Marcus fashion director Ken Downing, who endorsed newcomer Italian label 6267 with a prominent placement on Natick's second floor, said when he and the executive team walked through the store earlier that day, viewing the fall collection merchandise was like "seeing old friends."

For Neva Hall, Neiman Marcus executive vice president of stores, Natick sets a new bar — one that the Dallas-based retailer will inevitably attempt to top.

"Yes, we're very happy tonight, and then by tomorrow...discussing where we're going to go next starts all over again," she said.

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