The 2018 Christmas Catalogue by Neiman Marcus has just arrived. The 274-page book is filled with many wonderful gift suggestions. Some are under $100, but many are in the stratosphere. I list some of the items that customers will not find anywhere else. Neiman Marcus calls them Fantasy Gifts. They are exclusive and very expensive.
1. Explore Nepal, Bhutan and the Maldives. For $630,000, you and three guests can take a tour with “bespoke” travel purveyor Black Tomato that includes seeing the Taj Mahal and tigers, Hindu priests and monks, yoga masters and a breathtaking helicopter tour of the Himalayas.
2. Experience all four tennis majors as a VIP guest of Sloane Stephens for $550,000. Sloane Stephens is the 2017 U.S. Open champion. Stay in player-only hotels for a week for each event, and get in on the action with private hitting time with the champ herself. Sloane Stephens will then outfit you with tennis gear and signed memorabilia to close out this experience.
3. The ultimate club house can be yours for $250,000. The Virtue House is a 10-foot-by-12-foot backyard retreat for those in search of serenity. Relax with a glass of rosé on the surround deck or recharge with an hour of meditation. No design detail is overlooked to ensure your comfort.
4. Custom candy bar. One million pieces of Sugarfina candy will satisfy your sweet tooth for $325,000. This is the sweetest gift of all and includes custom flavors created just for you and then delivered to a candy bar installed in your home. After checking into the beautiful Belmont Hotel Splendido, you and three guests enjoy the sights of Cinque Terre before driving to the Sugarfina factory to see where your sugary treats come to life.
5. An exclusive outfit designed for you, inspired by Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, is available for $300,000. Spend a magical, fantastic day with four-time Oscar winner for Best Costume Design, Colleen Atwood. You and a guest will spend a day with Atwood that will include lunch and a design session, as well as a selection of Fantastic Beast wands and a collection of three Fantastic Beasts movie tie-in books.
6. A 74-foot, Neiman Marcus Edition Serenity Solar Yacht awaits those seeking adventure on the high seas for $7.1 million. Climb on board to explore the deep, blue sea. This one-of-kind cruiser sleeps 12 people and includes a crew of four. Created by Serenity Yacht, it has two diesel engines. Even better, it includes a Neiman Marcus shopping spree so you are sure to look the nautical part.
7. A larger-than-life animal sculpture by Bjørn Okholm Skaarup can add a decorative new touch to your home or property for $200,000. Skaarup is a Danish sculptor whose large custom creations are in the finest museums. You can pick your favorite animal for a life size tribute.
8. Become a secret agent and never tell you spent $315,000. Have you ever wondered what it is like to go undercover? Here is your chance to find out. For three days, four daring souls will participate in adventure and enjoy covert dinners. All with unforgettable accommodations at the Waldorf-Astoria in Los Angeles.
9. Dial Up the Holidays rings in at $5,600. Judith Leiber designed a truly unique cell phone shaped clutch bag. Crystal/golden metal. Miniaudience. Made in Italy. Still somewhat outrageous, but at something its owner can keep using.
You can probably sense a bit of sarcasm here, but there are special features to these gifts worth noting. Each gift will donate to The Heart of Neiman Marcus Foundation and in some cases to Mission Valiant and Lumos Foundation. That means there is practical benefit from these fantasy purchases.
Neiman Marcus always had crazy gifts in the past. I recall airplanes, hot air balloons, and sport cars that were outrageous but called attention to their annual Christmas Catalogue.
Maybe I am just being cynical these days. But spending a small fortune for an irrelevant gift from Neiman Marcus is nonsense and certainly not the way to sustain, or even build, a strong business. Sure, someone will admire the gift, but the idea that someone will spend thousands of dollars for a gift that will quickly evaporate or grow ‘mundane’ is a ridiculous way to build store traffic and loyalty. The company should have spent more time on productive merchandise that can strengthen a competitive position across the luxury marketplace for the company. I think these glamour gifts may find a few select customers and will do little to protect the future of this business. That said, one hopes that these gifts will make someone happy.
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