This interview discusses Barbara D'Arcy's experiences working at Bloomingdale's as the designer of the model rooms from 1958 to 1973. A large part of the conversation focuses on D'Arcy's professional relationship with Marvin Traub, Chief Excecutive of Bloomingdale's and his role in the development of the aesthetic identity of Bloomingdale's. D'Arcy also discusses her transition from model room designer to her role as head of store design.
Carl Levine describes his early years in the home furnishings business working for his small family business before talking about his start at Bloomingdale's. The Sr. VP of Home Furnishings at the time of this interview, Levine traces the major developments of the Home Furnishings department at Bloomingdale's throughout his 30 years at the department store. Describing the department as "having trouble" when he arrived in 1955, Levine speaks at length about Bloomingdale's decision to manufacture exclusive product overseas with a special attention towards accurate period reproductions. He then talks about working with Barbara D'arcy, the creator of Bloomingdale's innovative model rooms in the 1960s. Levine, who studied furniture and crafts and design at Syracuse University as well as the NY School of Interior Design, addresses the role of education in grooming a successful executive, especially in regards to understanding the history of fashion and design. In talking about Bloomingdale's CEO Marvin S. Traub, Levine describes his strong family life, his essential role as a diplomat in the creation of the country promotions, and his tireless determination and sense of humor. Finally, Levine addresses the concept of the "Bloomingdale's customer", taking into account the increasing number of Bloomingdale's stores across various regions.
This conversation covers very little of Lester Gribetz' life and career at Bloomingdale's. There is a brief intro in which Gribetz lays out his professional trajectory from trainee under Martin S. Traub to his role in merchandising. Like most of Traub's employees at Bloomingdale's, Gribetz praises Traub as a boss and as a person. He describes him as exciting, challenging, enlightened, and demanding. Gribetz attributes Traub's high standards to keeping workers excited and motivated. Traub is described as charitable in a number of the Bloomingdale's interviews but Gribetz shares a specific story of Traub organizing a massive fundraising effort for AIDS research after one of his buyers passed away from the disease. In describing the retail environment, Gribetz explains that a retail career is demanding and varied, and the hard work has discouraged many where others have thrived. Prompted several times to define Bloomingdale's milestones, Gribetz first discusses the team before Martin S. Traub's era and then the transitions and departmental changes that marked a real turning point with Traub. Bloomingdale's food business is discussed as a distinction among other retailers as well as the elaborate country promotions which were at their peak success at the time of this interview. The Bloomingdale's customer is described as being educated, affluent, adventuresome, and inventive. While Gribetz describes these qualities as being somewhat inherent in New Yorkers, he goes on to say that these ideas are present in customers in all regions and that Bloomingdale's still appeals to the mass market because it grants these qualities upon the customer.
This conversation takes place only a few weeks after Schaefer had joined Bloomingdale's as the Vice President of Marketing. Schaefer gives a quick recap of the previous 13 years of his career before talking about his thoughts on his new boss, Marvin S. Traub, as well as his new position at Bloomingdale's. Coming from first a marketing background and then, briefly, a retail background, Schaefer discusses the importance of retailers being fully aware of what people are reading, wearing, listening to, and even eating. This awareness is a qaulity of Traub's that Schaefer praises and which he attributes, in part, to making Bloomingdale's stand out in the retail industry. Schaefer also talks about Bloomingdale's distinguising itself by being a place of diversion, entertainment, and fun as opposed to being simply a mode of distribution. When discussing his job interview for Bloomingdale's, Schaefer recalls being impressed by the amount of thought and planning that evidently went into the future of the store and uses the country promotions as an example.