Carrie Marcus Neiman
A born saleswoman, Carrie Marcus Neiman made her family’s department stores synonymous with high-end retail fashion. She married Al Neiman in 1905 and, together with her husband and her brother Herbert Marcus, opened their flagship department store in Dallas in 1907. Carrie Neiman was a pioneer of retail clothing at a time when most women either sewed their own clothes or went to dressmakers. She selected ready-to-wear garments with an eye for fashion and quality that enabled Texas’s nouveau riche to find clothes that would help them navigate their rarified new social circles. Neiman divorced her husband due to his infidelities, and her brother Herbert bought out her husband’s shares. After Herbert’s death, Carrie took his place as chair of the board.
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.
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).