So, I entered the newest Neiman Marcus venture, their Last Call Studio Store that just opened on Post Oak, in the center that is exactly diagonally across the street from their dynamic Galleria flagship, wondering just what to expect. Well, my first surprise, walking in on opening morning, was a warm and happy greeting by the Store Manager, Natalie Shaffer, who had been told to expect me, her boss and her boss’s boss….all (3) former Foley-ites that I knew and loved in the old days of Foley’s Austin and that I was thrilled and surprised to know were running the show for the Last Call Division of Neiman Marcus…that was an added bonus! Natalie came from our Barton Creek store, Bill Earnhart is Vice President of the Last Call Division, including the outlet and studio stores,(only 5 of this newest concept exist today) and Sherry Ables, the Regional Store Director, East Coast, for these divisions. It was a great reunion and made for a very personalized touring of the store that opened that morning to 135 people lined up outdoors. The store was definitely all a-buzz with women’s ready-to-wear area appearing to hold most of the excitement.
About the two Last Call Store Concepts: (5 stores) I have to admit that I needed a little explaination to fully understand the difference between the two concepts. In simplest terms, Last Call Studio Stores, which began in Dallas in 2010, is also in Maryland, New Jersey and Houston now, which opened on May 4, 2012. This concept is located in town and features direct purchased product, that is in-season, brand-right and for less than what you would find a full-line Neiman Marcus store to carry. They accept Neiman Marcus credit cards and have their own Rewards program where you get rewarded with a gift card for every $250/month that you spend at the Studio Store.
The Brands are the same but the products vary. Important vendors in all categories from Ippolita and Ashley Pitman jewelry to Michelle watches to DVF, Vince, 7 For all Mankind and Paige Denim, Lafayette 148, True Religion, Rachel Roy, Isda, Alice & Olivia and Free People and that’s just the feminine side. There is a Men’s Section, Ladies Shoes & Handbags full of names that I know and wear and a small gift & small leather goods area for gift-giving items, as well as a limited fragrance offering.
The Last Call Outlet and Clearance stores, (26 stores) which will remain in the outskirts of town, will have some of this but much of the clearance from Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman and Catalog product that have been on clearance racks in the stores and then are re-sorted and returned to the outlet stores.
I say the concept is another positive step for Neiman Marcus who like so many high-end luxury stores are faced daily with the competition of flash sale sites, outlet malls and clearance centers. Who is better to negotiate with their vendors for sharp pricing?! I applaud them for taking this step!
The following are some various shots of opening day at the new store. For more info visit www.lastcall.com.