FORT WORTH, Tex. — Kitted out with an open-sell beauty area, an elegant glass-walled fragrance department and plenty of “memory” mirrors, the new Neiman Marcus at the Shops at Clearfork here represents an advanced luxury experience for the Dallas-based retailer.
“This is a store of the future, offering a reimagined shopping experience,” said Karen Katz, president and chief executive officer of Neiman Marcus Group. She said Neiman Marcus Fort Worth, opening Friday, delivers “the perfect balance” of innovative technology, service and luxury fashion that has been the signature of the retailer for 110 years.
The two-level, 95,000-square-foot Fort Worth unit, which replaces the previous store that closed Jan. 28 in the Ridgmar Mall, boasts shoe and handbag departments that are double in size, an infusion of brands not sold at the store before, plenty of natural light and a customized decor that subtly references the Texas landscape and Fort Worth’s roots as a livestock exchange.
The Dallas-based Neiman Marcus Group has suffered five consecutive quarters of comparable-store sales declines and been bedeviled by a malfunctioning POS and inventory system installed in August, but hopes the Fort Worth store brings a lift to the business.
Decorated primarily in white and gray with accents of lavender, pink and blue, Neiman’s is the first store to open at the Shops at Clearfork mixed-use center under development by Simon Property Group. The center is located on a former ranch in southwest Fort Worth near affluent neighborhoods and Texas Christian University.
“This has been a long time coming to move out of Ridgmar to an open-air development that is more modern and closer to our customer base,” noted store vice president and general manager Scott Mitchell, during a preview of the store. “We really listened to our customers.”
Of all the departments in the store, beauty is where Neiman’s got the most innovative, such as eight Memory Makeover Mirrors that produce digital videos of individual makeup applications. They can be sent via e-mail or text to the customer and are archived chain-wide for future reference. Customers may view the video by segment, such as eyes, lips or face, and see images of the products that were used.
The chain is installing an additional 50 Memory Makeover Mirrors in 33 other stores by the end of next week, but this is the only unit that has them on almost every counter. The Fort Worth store also has a smart mirror at the sunglasses counter plus two full-length Memory Mirrors in the men’s and women’s fashion departments.
“It’s the largest deployment of digital mirrors in the world,” said Salvador Nissi Vilcovsky, chief executive officer of Memory Mirror in Palo Alto, Calif.
The open-sell concept is expected to appeal in particular to Millennials who are familiar with products and prefer to serve themselves, explained Mimi Sterling, vice president of corporate communications and public relations. The fixtures were designed for Neiman’s, but several top brands have custom counters and fixtures. Chantecaille, for instance, is styled with back-lit panels of shaved amethyst that previously were seen only in stores overseas.
Another innovation is a glass-walled oval room for fragrances punctuated by an island display of scents grouped in eight categories, including floral, woody, green and citrus. Shoppers can experiment and then pluck their favorites from stock arrayed on wall shelving.
Beauty also has two spa rooms, a central table with six seats for personal consultations and a larger selection of beauty tools such as Dyson hair dryers. Cosmetics brands new to the store are Tom Ford, Tata Harper, Chantecaille, La Prairie, MFK, Lila b. and Marc Jacobs.
“Many elements are new to Neiman Marcus. We’ll see what’s working, and some things will be integrated into Hudson Yards,” Sterling said, referring to Neiman’s first New York store that is slated to open on Manhattan’s West Side in 2018. NMG is also deep into a multiyear upgrade of the Bergdorf Goodman women’s store.
One new tactic is tucking socks and hosiery into alcoves by fitting rooms instead of on the sales floor in both the men’s and women’s departments. Another first for Neiman’s are the digital directories by the entrances enabling searches by brand name as well as by department.
Handbags features shops for Gucci and Prada, which is new to the store, as well as the introduction of Brunello Cucinelli, MCM and Edie Parker.
“Customers have been talking for a long time about how we had to expand the handbag and shoe assortment,” Mitchell said.
Shoe brands new to the store include Fendi and Gianvito Rossi.
The Shops at Clearfork store is 25,000-square-feet smaller than the Ridgmar Mall unit, but the old location was hampered by aisles that were too wide and inefficient and three vacant rooms that formerly housed a beauty salon, a travel agency and a portrait studio, Mitchell explained. At The Shops at Clearfork “the selling space feels much bigger,” he said.
Burnt wood veneers and metal rods intended to evoke branding irons provide a nod to Fort Worth’s cowboy heritage, as does a jeweled minaudiere in the shape of a boot and horse motifs scattered in merchandise throughout. Like all Neiman Marcus stores, fine art is displayed throughout, including newly acquired Halston sketches in the women’s fitting rooms and works by Texas artists.
Alamo Architects drew inspiration from woven textiles for the facade, which is made of custom cast concrete panels glistening with white and clear quartz.
Neiman’s is the first store to open in The Shops at Clearfork. Additional stores, which haven’t been revealed yet, are scheduled to open next fall.