If you've been reading here for any length of time, you'll know that I love all forms of shopping, especially really nice shopping like SouthPark offers. Having a NM closer allows me to check out what's fashionable within a day's drive. It joins an impressive list of tenants at SouthPark, including Burberry, St. John, Sur La Table, Nordstrom, and Louis Vuitton. On top of all the exclusive stores, SouthPark has the flagship Belk department store, and the largest Dillard's and Hecht's stores in the region. It's a fashionista's wet dream. And it's in North Carolina, smack in the middle of NASCAR country!
This announcement has a dark side, hard as that may be to believe. There's a good chance that Saks Fifth Avenue, another fine specialty department store with plans for Charlotte (namely, at one point, the exact spot where NM is locating) won't be coming. Saks is scheduled to be a part of the Village at Seven Eagles, an upscale development not too far from SouthPark that has had all sorts of financial problems during its construction. Rumor is that it may not be built at all, leaving saks homeless with almost no suitable sites left in the Queen City.
Anyway, the article gives the facts and figures, read below...
Neiman Marcus coming to SouthPark
AMY BALDWIN, charlotte.com, July 27, 2004
Hold on to your Prada handbag. Neiman Marcus is coming to Charlotte.
The Dallas-based department store chain, known to fans as the creme de la creme of retail, will open a store at SouthPark in fall 2006.
The store will be Neiman Marcus' 39th property and the mall's sixth anchor. The announcement, from mall manager and owner Simon Property Group, confirmed year-old speculation that Neiman Marcus was headed to the Queen City.
Longtime Charlotte developer Henry Faison, whose company helped spearhead SouthPark's expansion, said, "This is another large step in creating the finest shopping experience in the Carolinas. Charlotte is a world-class city and deserves world-class shopping."
Charlotte real estate analyst Frank Warren, president of Warren & Associates, said the arrival of Neiman Marcus speaks to the region's shifting demographics. With Charlotte's two big banks pulling in affluent employees from the Northeast, he said, retailers are responding with upscale stores.
Shoppers familiar with Neiman Marcus might envision a store much larger than the one planned for Charlotte. At 80,000 square feet, this Neiman Marcus will be the chain's second smallest, ahead of Palm Beach's 53,000-square- foot store, according to the company's corporate Web site.
By comparison, Atlanta's Neiman Marcus, the closest to Charlotte, is nearly twice as large at 154,000 square feet.
Neiman Marcus did not return a phone call seeking comment.
City officials and retail analysts said the addition confirms Charlotte as an undisputed shopping hub. Retailers and shoppers expressed delight.
"It's very much needed," said Laura Snyder, who was shopping Monday at Phillips Place. "We'll have access to more designers, a greater variety of styles."
The excitement over a store that sells $1,000 suits and $150 neckties underscores a point noted by economists: Despite some soft spots in the U.S. economy, high-end retailers are thriving.
Upscale department stores such as Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom have been enjoying double-digit sales growth this year, said Malachy Kavanaugh, spokesman for the International Council of Shopping Centers.
Neiman Marcus' June sales grew 13 percent over the previous June, according to the company's Web site.
"A lot has to do with the economy, the tax rebates ... the (strong) housing market in which people can cash out equity on their homes," Kavanaugh said.
Discount retailers have seen more modest results because the economic recovery hasn't trickled down to middle- and lower-income customers, he said.
Neiman Marcus oozes style and exclusivity. Its cache of labels are the finest the fashion world offers -- $3,000 leather jackets by Valentino and $485 satin pumps by Manolo Blahnik, to name a few.
Most labels sold by Neiman Marcus, known to some critics by the moniker "Needless Markup" already are available in Charlotte at specialty shops such as Paul Simon, or at department stores such as Nordstrom, which opened in March, and Belk.
Other brands found under a Neiman Marcus roof have their own shopping outlets. Burberry, known for its iconic plaid check rain hats and coats, and Louis Vuitton, known for its designer Marc Jacobs, are two such examples. Both have stores in the new SouthPark wing that Neiman Marcus will enter.
But high-end shopping isn't just about access to luxury goods, shoppers say. Neiman Marcus is as much about the experience.
"Neiman Marcus to me is the ultimate. It kind of says elegance to me," said Judy Hovis, president of the Charlotte chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners and an avid shopper.
Hovis, a telecommunications executive, said she'll do lots of shopping when Charlotte's Neiman Marcus opens.
Rumors of Neiman Marcus' arrival had circulated since last July, when Charlotte developer Dee-Dee Harris said she would bring competing retailer Saks Fifth Avenue to the corner of Park and Gleneagles roads. Faison had announced that Saks was headed for SouthPark's new wing. But with Saks no longer destined for SouthPark, the buzz centered on Neiman Marcus.
It's unclear how Neiman Marcus might affect Harris' plans for Saks. In April, Harris sent letters to city and state officials asking for financial assistance to complete her $200 million project, where construction has stopped. Harris did not return a phone call seeking comment.
For the past year, SouthPark merchants have fielded queries from shoppers who had heard the Neiman Marcus rumors. One retailer, Michelle Schmitt, said she frequently asked mall management if it would land Neiman Marcus.
"I am interested on the business end. I want more people shopping here at my cart," said Schmitt, owner of the BeJeweled cart that sells pearl and sterling jewelry. "The more the merrier really. It brings more money to everybody."
Retail and real estate analysts said Neiman Marcus will lure customers from miles and even states away. Charlotte's location will be the only one between Washington and Atlanta.
Warren, the real estate analyst, said, "This will bring customers in from locations farther away from Charlotte, and those customers will be high-end."
** The store in Charlotte will be No. 39.
** Closest store to Charlotte now is Atlanta's 154,000- square-foot store that opened in 1973.
** HQ: Dallas, Texas