Carrie Marcus Neiman
1883 – 1953
Dallas’s legendary Neiman Marcus specialty store owes its style, its personal brand of service, and its first cache of merchandise to Carrie Marcus Neiman, the fashion authority who helped launch a retailing concept. Until the Texas store opened on September 10, 1907, women went to dressmakers for apparel. In the new store, Neiman selected quality ready-to-wear garments that suited her taste and anticipated stylish trends. When the Texas frontier turned rich with oil, Neiman was poised to play Pygmalion for newly wealthy customers whose shopping sprees fueled Texas tales and made Dallas an international fashion capital.
Born on May 5, 1883, in Louisville, Kentucky, Carrie Marcus Neiman was the youngest of three daughters and two sons of German immigrants Delia (Bloomfield) and Jacob Marcus, a cotton broker. In 1895, the family moved to Texas to live with a daughter married to a Hillsboro grocer. In 1899, they moved to Dallas. After high school in 1902, Carrie Neiman became top salesperson at A. Harris and Company. After marrying Abraham Lincoln “Al” Neiman on April 25, 1905, in Dallas, both Neiman and her older brother Herbert Marcus, a buyer for a rival store, joined Al Neiman’s salvage business and moved to Atlanta. In 1907, with twenty-five thousand dollars in profits, the trio returned to Dallas to launch their dream store. The Neimans divorced in 1928 because of his infidelities. Herbert Marcus bought out his brother-in-law’s ownership in the store. He was chair of the board from 1923 to 1950. Carrie Neiman became the chair following his death in December 1950. In 1951, the store did a $21 million volume.
Carrie Neiman belonged to Temple Emanu-El and Columbian Club, a Jewish country club, which her brother helped launch because Dallas clubs were closed to Jews.
Carrie Marcus Neiman died in Dallas on March 6, 1953, in the same month that Holiday magazine pronounced her a symbol of elegance.
AJHQ 66:123–136; Harris, Leon. Merchant Princes: An Intimate History of Jewish Families Who Built Great Department Stores (1979); Marcus, Stanley [nephew]. Telephone conversation with author, May 2, 1996; Peeler, Tom. “Story of the Store: The Unlikely Marriages of Neiman and Marcus.” D Magazine (August 1984): 165–171; Smith, Marcus Jerrie [grandniece]. Telephone conversation with author, May 6, 1996; Street, James. “Dazzling Dallas.” Holiday (March 1953): 102–119; Tolbert, Frank X. “Death Takes Mrs. Neiman at Age of 69.” Dallas Morning News, March 7, 1953, 1, and “Mrs. Neiman Dead; Store Co-Founder, Chairman of Neiman-Marcus in Dallas Started Business in ’07 with Husband and Brother.” NYTimes, March 8, 1953, 89, and Neiman-Marcus, Texas: The Story of the Proud Dallas Store (1953).