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May They Help You?

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Bloomingdale's Marian Goodman, right, is always on call—even on Christmas Eve.   

Marian Goodman
Vice-President and Director of Shopping Services, Bloomingdale’s

What’s your domain?
My office is on the eleventh floor, but it’s not unusual for me to be on every floor at some point during the day because we take care not only of personal wardrobes, but gift-giving, too. I arrive at 6:30 each morning and work five twelve-hour days. Our philosophy is to get clients what they need and get it quickly. Someone can call up and say, “I need to send a really great 50th anniversary present right now. What can you recommend?” During holiday time, people call and say, “I need to send ten gifts, and they all need to be $50.” We can do it.

What do you love to sell?
I love Chanel, Armani, Ellen Tracy, St. John, Dana Buckman, and Tahari as well as our private-label brand of cashmere, which is just great. And our clients love that we’re not one of these stores that goes out and blabs to the newspapers about what we’re doing. We protect our clients’ interests, and I think that’s why they keep coming back to us.

What do you love to wear?
I wear Armani, Ellen Tracy, Escada, Chanel, and St. John. On weekends, you’ll find me in a pair of jeans and a Lacoste shirt or a cashmere sweater, always from our private label. And flats. I’m excited to buy brooches. I absolutely have to get new skinny black pants. I buy what fits, like Armani. I definitely want something trimmed in fur and a new Chanel handbag. This season, I’m going to get these great Stuart Weitzman boots.

Where else do you like to shop on your own time?
I do a lot of catalogue shopping. I recently bought some weekend wear from Patagonia. Also, I found a great brooch from a vintage specialty store on the Upper East Side.

How do you close a deal?
When you’re working with younger clients, you try to minimize some of the enthusiasm. They don’t need as much fanfare as the older clients. Generally, the customers that you’ve worked with for a long time like attention. I put more time into telling them how great they look. With most clients you say, “That’s it!” or “You look fabulous!” But at that point, you both already know it.

Greatest lengths ever gone to for a client?
On Christmas Eve, someone called and said they needed one more gift. We didn’t have the specific item in our store, so I went to another store and took it to the post office. I was standing in the post office on Eighth Avenue on Christmas Eve, and let me tell you, it’s not a pretty picture. My office knows how to find me 24/7.

Oddest request from a client ever?
One time, somebody was entertaining and needed certain types of serving pieces, much larger than what we carry, so I got the buyer involved and had the samples brought over, and the client chose what she really needed. Another client was on a business trip with her husband, in Florida, and the airline lost her luggage. I put them in touch with our personal shopper in that area, and we instantly outfitted the client with everything from casual clothes to cosmetics to eveningwear.

Anything you would never tell a client?
If they’re dead set on buying something and it doesn’t look good, I’m not going to stop them from buying it.

Is it ever okay to lie?
The most important thing you can do is build trust with a client, so I would absolutely, positively never lie to a client.


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