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A Daily Conversation About Dallas

Shopping

What Was NorthPark Like Last Weekend?

| 3 months ago

I’ve never seen the parking lot of NorthPark this empty on a Saturday. It’s May 2, one day after the governor began creaking open the door on our state, but I glide my car into that perennially bustling marketplace like a thief working the after-hour shift, even though it’s a sunny 1pm. Cars are clustering over by Nordstrom’s, which is closed like every department store, but it’s situated near a side entrance where people in face masks stream in and out. A small woman wearing a tuxedo and a blue face mask holds open the push-door for customers. (I’m going to stop mentioning the face masks, but everyone in this story is wearing one.) Right inside, there’s a table with a bottle of hand sanitizer, a police officer seated next to a blonde woman who looks like she runs marathons.

“Welcome to NorthPark,” she says.

If you grew up in Dallas, especially if you are a girl, this upscale mall is a ship of memories. The pond where the penguins used to roam, the corner of Dillard’s where you bought your prom dress, the Neiman-Marcus makeup counter where your mother splurged on a high-end makeover, because it was the late Nineties, and everyone was rich, even your scrappy family, the Lululemon store where you bought the yoga pants that made your ass look way better than your ass looks. Every one of those stores is shut down today. A slip of paper taped against the glass. Temporarily closed.

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Holidays

Our Mother’s Day Guide Looks a Little Different This Year

| 3 months ago

Each year, D Magazine has the privilege of helping our readers celebrate Mother’s Day. Our dining guides showcase the best brunch options in town, while our gift guides feature locally-sourced products that Mom is sure to love. You support neighborhood businesses and make your mother feel special. Win/win. In past years, we’ve even rounded up family-friendly events, creative classes, and outdoor activities.

This year, though, we’re faced with unprecedented challenges. Texas is slowly reopening, but many of us aren’t ready to return to normalcy. Shopping for Mother’s Day gifts feels daunting. Going out to eat requires careful consideration. Simply paying family members a visit poses risks.

Even so, mothers deserve to be celebrated, and we want their loved ones to stay safe as they do so.

That’s why our 2020 Mother’s Day Guide was reimagined with you, the reader, in mind. You’ll find dozens of gifts from stores with curbside pick-up and local delivery. We determined which florists still deliver, and which bakeries can bring sweet treats straight to her door. We threw in a few Mother’s Day cards and specified which stores offer gift wrap. Most importantly, we curated a list of to-go brunch options, cocktail kits, and more, so you can toast to Mom from home. Cheers to that!

View our 2020 Mother’s Day Guide here.

A special thank you to our Mother’s Day Gift Guide sponsor, Mozart Chocolate Liqueur.

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Shopping

Love in the Time of COVID: Shouting in the Grocery Store

| 4 months ago

My mom is 75. She’s a teacher and an artist — fiber, watercolor, pretty much anything you throw at her. With the CDC’s new recommendation, she made me some masks. All respect, but they aren’t pretty. That said, they seem to work well, far as I can tell. They have a bendy metal piece sewn above the nose. I wore one yesterday, for the first time, to shop for groceries, some of which were for her. It was a weird experience.

First, the shelves at my Albertsons in Casa Linda look like the shelves in a country that is not the richest, most privileged place on the planet. Some items are stocked, others aren’t. You don’t make a shopping list and tick it off anymore; you have a general idea of what you need, and then you just grab what’s available, even if you don’t need it.

Then there is the mask. I’m sure I’ll get accustomed to wearing it. But for my first shopping excursion, I felt claustrophobic. And everyone else, of course, looks like they are about to stick you up and demand your eggs. The variety of masks interested me. Some surgical, some homemade, some just a scarf. I saw a woman in the produce section wearing a rainbow-print mask and I said to her, “Hey, that’s a cool mask.” She looked at me and made a noise I couldn’t classify. It’s hard to tell what someone thinks when you can’t see her face. Did she think I was being sarcastic and that I was homophobic? Ugh. This is what I was worrying about when I was grabbing some romaine and saw a dude riding a Rascal that I nearly got into a fight with.

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Coronavirus

Neiman Marcus Group Furloughs Most of Its 14,000 Employees in the Wake of COVID-19

| 4 months ago

Yesterday, Neiman Marcus Group announced that it would be furloughing most of its 14,000 employees. Those remaining will take temporary salary reductions.

Says CEO Geoffroy van Raemdonck, “I have decided to waive 100% of my salary to do my part to support our company, and my direct reports have also decided to waive a significant amount of their salary as well during this temporary furlough.”

The decision is subject to review on April 30. Neiman Marcus Group stores (Neiman Marcus, Neiman Marcus Last Call, and Bergdorf Goodman) are tentatively scheduled to re-open at that time. All have been closed since March 18.

“While these are the most difficult decisions to make, our focus is on ensuring our business is protected over the long-term so we can continue serving our associates and customers,” says van Raemdonck.

Neiman Marcus Group’s previous response to COVID-19 has been both commendable and questionable.

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marketplace

With Grocery Stores Slammed, Here Are More Dallas Markets to Consider

| 5 months ago
Runs on toilet paper and margarita mix may have turned some grocery stores like Tom Thumb and Kroger into places with worse traffic than the Central Expressway at 4 p.m. on a Friday. Meanwhile, one D Magazine staffer reports her Whole Foods trip was mostly successful. Which is to say, shopping right now is a moving target. While clerks are working on restocking those shelves, here are a handful of other markets to consider for your pantry-stocking needs. And as always, practice patience and stay safe and well, everyone.
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Odd Jobs

Diary of a Department Store Dick

| 9 months ago

In early 2019, I found myself needing something I hadn’t had in a long time: a part-time job. For more than a decade, I’d worked as a freelance writer. It hardly made me rich. But I counted it a blessing to work from home doing something I enjoyed, until a major illness kept me from working at all for most of 2018, while generating new bills. Now my health was restored, but my finances were sick. I was a 51-year-old man in need of a gig. So I went to the mall.

At the executive offices of one of the large department stores at a mall in Plano, the hiring manager told me the store needed sales associates. But there was also another option I might consider: security.

It was a plainclothes position, behind the scenes, monitoring video from cameras spread around the store like far-flung eyes. I would communicate with uniformed security guards, store management, and mall and even local police about theft, customer injuries, active shooters, and the like.

“You’re the traffic director,” he said.

I didn’t play hard to get.

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Shopping

A Look at Weir’s, a Family-Run Staple of Dallas, Through the Years

| 2 years ago

We’ve known this day was coming for some time now, but it’s still going to be surreal not to see Weir’s Furniture at its usual post on the corner of Travis and Knox. It’s been there since owner J. Ray Weir first opened the store in 1948. The store will close on February 2 to make way for a 12-story office tower.

We won’t have to mourn Weir’s entirely. The traditional furniture store has worked closely with the local developers behind the 12-story project, and plan to reopen in an even larger street-front retail space in the next two years. (They’re also working to protect the façade of the former Highland Park Soda Fountain.) Plus, it will be business as usual at Weir’s other smaller locations in Southlake, Plano, and Farmers Branch.

And yet, even with Weir’s planned return, the whole thing still stings. Knox District has changed a great deal over the years (feel free to revisit this D Magazine post from the ’80s for a wild retail throwback), but the most recent changes have gone beyond tenant turnover. One of the most attractive things about the Knox-Henderson area has always been how different if feels from other Dallas neighborhoods — and the fact that pedestrians actually use the sidewalks. Quaint, single-story storefronts giving way to towering multi-use developments, even ones that are working to preserve history, will be a notable change.

Clearly, Weir’s impending closure has sparked a bit of nostalgia in us, so feel free to join us in a walk down memory lane via this post’s slideshow, and be sure to take one final walk through the store as we know it before it closes Saturday.

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Shopping

Dallas Is Capitalizing on Digital Retail

| 2 years ago

With apologies to the Dallas Cowboys, the most popular pastime in this part of the world just might be shopping. The Dallas-Fort Worth area leads the nation in shopping centers per capita and ranks among the nation’s Top 5 with about 460,000 retail workers.

Perhaps it started with charismatic merchant Stanley Marcus, maybe it owes to something else, but, this former trading post on the Trinity River has inexplicably grown into one of America’s shopping superstars.

We all know, of course, that the internet set off a slow-moving earthquake under the traditional retail sector. The rapid rise of e-commerce in the past decade or so means more of our shopping is being done from home—or, data tell us, from work. It’s quicker, often cheaper, with wider selection and no traffic or parking hassles.

As consumers in DFW and the rest of the country shift more of their buying on-line, we wondered whether an unlikely brick-and-mortar superstar can transition to an e-commerce superstar.

Let’s start by taking stock of the region’s e-commerce industry. Among the 20 largest U.S. metropolitan areas, DFW ranked fifth, with 10,056 companies operating in the e-commerce space in 2016, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau. These companies employed 384,000 workers, fourth in the nation. Payrolls at DFW e-commerce firms exceeded $20.4 billion, seventh among MSAs. The North Texas region’s e-commerce sector is the largest in Texas.

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Super Heroes

Serena Williams Pops Up in Dallas at Neighborhood Goods

| 2 years ago

She’s just that into me. Photograph by Melissa Romig.

The first time I saw Serena Williams play, I cried. It was 2009 and I was in NYC for a trademark and copyright seminar. Bored out of my mind during one of the sessions, I decided on a whim to see if I could get a last-minute ticket to the U.S. Open. The heavens shone down upon me, and I scored a loge seat for the night matches in Arthur Ashe for like $100. I hopped on the 7 Subway to Queens, found my seat, they dimmed the lights, and, as the Black Eyed Peas’ newly released single “I Have a Feeling” blared over the sound system and the spotlights chased each other around the arena, Serena took the court. The crowd went wild, and I sobbed like a 5-year-old meeting Elsa on a unicorn made of candy. That song still makes me tear up every time I hear it.

That was the same year that Serena threatened a line judge with physical harm, which I wasn’t cool with. But I soon forgave and forgot, because, in the end, she always gives more than she takes, to both the sport and the world at large. I haven’t missed a U.S. Open since. This past Labor Day weekend, I hovered behind the windscreen of the practice court as she sat just feet away on a bench, laughing with her coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, during a water break. I figured that was the closest we would ever be, and I was fine with that.

Then I got an invite to the VIP launch event Saturday night for her Great Collection at Neighborhood Goods, in Legacy West. Yes, that’s right: the GOAT has gone beyond 23 Grand Slam wins and a Nike catsuit controversy and the Beats “Queen of Queens” video endorsement and marrying that Reddit guy and motherhood posts about teething and being the newest board member of Survey Monkey and showing up to gal pal Megan Markle’s wedding in Valentino trainers to personally stock and style the shelves of a small pop-up shop in Matt Alexander and Mark Masinter’s new take on a department store.

In Dallas.

And so, of course, I went.

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Shopping

Mizzen+Main’s First Brick and Mortar Is Good News for the Men of Dallas

| 2 years ago

When it comes to dress shirts, men are often forced to sacrifice functionality in the name of professional appearance. Mizzen+Main CEO Kevin Lavelle figured that by substituting performance fabrics for cotton, he could counter many of the undesirable aspects of the traditional button-down: the tendency to wrinkle, untuck, and put perspiration on display.

“When you’re working hard, our shirt’s going to move with you,” Lavelle says. “It’s never going to restrict you, whether that’s putting a piece of luggage in an overhead bin, running to the train, running to your car—and that’s absolutely essential for our guys.”

When we caught up with Lavelle around the recent opening of the brand’s West Village flagship store, he could not have been more enthused. “Dallas is our home base,” he says. “This is where we launched. This is our headquarters. This is us: Dallas.”

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Shopping

Window Shopping at Neiman Marcus

| 2 years ago

I was a kindergartner at First Baptist Academy when I first saw Neiman Marcus’ display windows. At that time, in the ’90s, the academy shared space with First Baptist Church, in downtown Dallas. Now the school is in East Dallas, and I’m a visual historian pursuing a Ph.D. at SMU. But the windows remain.

Every weekday morning throughout my grade school years, as my parents or my grandfather turned their car onto Ervay, I paid attention to the left side of the street. The corner of Ervay and Main was where the magic happened. There I would find scenes of the opulent and the avant-garde, with mannequins styled in evening gowns, cocktail dresses, wedding gowns, tailcoats, tuxedos, and tailored suits. There were bright colors, lush fabrics, and accessories that sparkled. When formal and cocktail attire were not being advertised, there were clothes on display that I imagined would be worn to church, high tea, or even a royal wedding: hats and knee-length, A-line dresses for women and morning suits for men.

The mannequins were only part of the show. Neiman Marcus gave equal attention to the environment, creating scenery that coordinated with each garment. One could not only envision wearing the attire but also learn under what circumstances the clothes could and should be worn. It was all a beautiful lesson about a certain type of excellence: namely, how to be appropriately adorned for life’s most exquisite occasions.

courtesy of Neiman Marcus
Decorated for French Fortnight in 1957.

The retail industry no longer gives physical stores the opportunity to be the sole educators of their clientele or the general public. People can now watch fashion shows in real time on their phones, get styling tips from YouTube and Instagram, and shop from home. Neiman Marcus has not been immune to the struggles of a changing industry and is trying to bounce back from its own specific financial challenges, which include long-term debt and liabilities in excess of $5 billion resulting from leveraged buyouts in 2005 and 2013. Despite these setbacks, the luxury brand reported its third consecutive quarter of sales gains in June. Part of that success comes from Neiman’s increased online sales. However, the store’s physical presence—which helped establish its legendary reputation—is still contributing to the brand’s success in new and surprising ways.

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