Neiman’s Net Earnings Take a Tumble

Fresh off posting a 12.3% drop in direct sales for November, Neiman Marcus Group announced lackluster first-quarter results.

First-quarter direct marketing sales for luxury goods merchant fell 7%, to $158.7 million, compared to $170.6 million for the same period last year. The Dallas-based merchant’s net earnings sank 84%, to $12.8 million, compared to $78.7 million last year.

In addition to the flagship retail chain, the company mails the Neiman Marcus and Horchow apparel and home decor catalogs, and owns high-end New York retailer Bergdorf Goodman.

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Neiman’s Newest Noel Offerings

You don’t have to be a millionaire to buy from the annual Neiman Marcus Christmas Book. If you want to get something really good, like the $10 million Zeppelin, you’d better be a billionaire.

The upscale Dallas-based cataloger/retailer will drop 2 million copies of its upscale gifts catalog, which it unveiled Sept. 28. If you’re not on the distribution list, you’ll have to call Neiman Marcus and order a copy for $15. Before you depart with your hard-earned cash for the catalog, though, we’ll cull the best of the book for you.

Best “Look at Me” Gift: The zeppelin–the most expensive item–is indeed the coolest. “The first modern airship licensed to carry commercial passengers,” Neiman’s says the 230-ft.-long zeppelin “floats with safe, nonflammable helium contained in an inner envelope of high-strength multilayered material.” The cabin can comfortably accommodate 12 passengers, a pilot, and a flight attendant. The biggest blimp’s selling point? You’ll really be able to show up those losers flaunting their Hummers around town.

Best Gift for a Geek: The custom-fitted “historically accurate” suit of armor. This hand-hammered polished steel suit is “fully functional with all interworking pieces from the sallet and bevor (helmet and neck piece) down to the greaves and sabatons (shin and foot pieces).” The $20,000 price tag includes two sword-fighting lessons, a steel display stand, and a custom-fitted arming doublet undergarment of padded linen. Guaranteed to rule at the next Renaissance fair.

Best “Money Can’t Buy Taste” Gift: The His and Her Bowling Center. This 5,000-sq.-ft., four-lane state-of-the-art bowling and entertainment center is surely worth every cent of the $1.45 million it costs. The Aaron Spelling-like setup includes everything from balls, shoes, and shirts to self-diagnostic pin setting systems, automated large screen video scoring monitors, an integrated stereo sound system, and a karaoke machine. But if your idea of a fantasy gift is having your own bowling alley, you don’t deserve your millions.

Best Gift for the Wanna-Be Biker: The Las Vegas Trike features a 330-horsepower V8 Chevy engine, a turbo 350 automatic transmission, and two bucket racing seats resting on a custom 15-ft. steel chassis. The cataloger’s exclusive three-wheeler for adults “packs the punch of a muscle car and has the open-air ease of a motorcycle.” But let’s face it: No one looks cool on a tricycle, even a $65,000 custom model with “prismatic metallic paint finishes that change color, a custom-polished transmission, a chromed drive line and special neon lighting.” And while Neiman Marcus swears that the trike is “100% street legal,” we don’t advise wheeling it into a Hell’s Angels rally anytime soon.

Gift Most Likely to Land On eBay: That would have to be the jeweled Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head. The Swarovski-crystal studded spuds sell for $8,000 each. Need we say more?

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