This interview takes place at a time when Bloomingdale's President Marvin S. Traub was being awarded the "Person Who Makes the Difference" award from the Fashion Institute of Technology. Gordon Cooke discusses the various ways in which Traub's style of leadership and business has made a difference in Bloomingdale's success not just as a department store but as an innovator in the world of promotions and business relations. Cooke uses Bloomingdale's country promotions as examples of Traub's creativity and insight regarding promotions. Cooke discusses the team-syle development of ideas, describing the equal value placed on promotions, design, sales, etc. as being instrumental in the creative development of Bloomingdale's. Cooke credits Bloomingale's with opening up trade with various countries before even the U.S. government had fully developed trade with these countries. Finally, Cooke talks about Traub's collaboration with both established and cutting-edge artists in advertisements and promotions.
Arthur Jablow reflecting on his father-in-law, Maurice Rentner. There is a most interesting section in the Oral Memoirs of Maurice Rentner, (his father-in-law) which provides considerable insight into other facets of the ready-to-wear business.
This conversation has three main components: first, Tomchin discusses his work in the home furnishings department, consolidating the department into one cohesive collection under the guidance of a fashion director, similar to the structure of the clothing departments. This allowed the department to present more fully developed design ideas to the customer, encouraging the customer to work as her own decorator, just as the fashion departments allowed her to be her own stylist. Next, Tomchin speaks at length about Bloomingdale's emphasis on exclusivity of product, whether through the development of Bloomingdale's own signature products, through the introduction of new international products through the country promotions, or through the collaborative efforts between Bloomingdale's and manufacturers to create products that would be of special interest to the Bloomingdale's customer. This convseration focuses heavily on the importance of the educated buyer in understanding other cultures and being able to translate the excitement of products to the customer. Finally, Tomchin speaks to the major contributions and milestones of Bloomingdale's CEO Marvin S. Traub, who opened 5 new Bloomingdale's stores during the first 8 years of Tomchin's tenure with the department store. Traub is described as having a parental sense of care and interest in the store and as having a level of respect for the customer that translated into thoughtful selection and exhibition of products.
This interview first discusses Dennis Garro's work experience leading up to his move from Macy's to Bloomingdale's in 1986. Garro briefly presents some of the main cultural differences between Macy's and Bloomingdale's as being inherenet within the California culture of Macy's and the New York City culture of Bloomingdale's. Garro shies from comparing Phil Schann (head of Macy's at the time) and Marvin S. Traub (head of Bloomingdale's at the time) other than to say that they were similar leaders. Garro describes Traub and Schann as being the type of leaders who challenge subordinates to continually look for new ways to make a better store. Traub is presented as having a drive to succeed at all things and he says that this is the same way he approaches his work. Garro discusses the Bloomingdale's business style as being merchandise driven as compared to consumer driven, though he does not consider the two as being so different. A discussion of fashion as being about different lifestyles leads to a discussion on Ralph Lauren's designs being fashionable yet traditional. As this was a period when the baby boomer generation was coming into its professional peak, Garro addresses the laid-back business approach of others in his generation, explaining that he as well as his peers are perhaps exceptions. As Senior VP and General Manager of the Men's, Boy's, and Children's divisions at Bloomingdale's, Garro offers insight into the challenges each department faces. He also predicts huge growth in the infant/ toddler division. Finally, Garro addresses the importance of assigning the right person to the right job and this leads to an exploration on the recruiting and staffing at Bloomingdale's. He describes the ideal recruit as someone who is driven, independent, and quick to respond. Garro states that a "thirst for a cultural background is more important than the actual cultural background."
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.
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.
In this interview, Alan Reyburn talks about restuaranteuring in the context of the retail world. Reyburn ran all food operations at Bloomingdale's during the 1980s, including staff restuarants. After briefly describing his past hospitality job working for a cruise line, Reyburn explains that New York City is a restaurant city and the Bloomingdale's client is someone who considers food and dining to be part of the fashionable lifestyle. Reyburn attributes Bloomingdale's Marvin S. Traub for having the total vision that included food operations as part of the Department Store's success. Most notable among Reyburn's projects while at Bloomingdale's was Le Train Bleu, a rooftop restuarant designed to look like the luxury train used by travelers going between Paris and the Mediterranean. Reyburn shares a number of anecdotes about the inception, operation, and overall concept of Le Train Bleu. As Bloomingdale's was one of the few department stores to have its own restuarant at the time, Reyburn explains the challenges specific to running a restaurant within a retail environment. In regards to service, Reyburn believed that good service in the restaurant was even more important to the Bloomingdale's client than good service on the sales floor. Having traveled with Traub for business, Reyburn describes the Bloomingdale's CEO as being indefatigable, an adventurous eater, and keenly aware of his surroundings. He also describes Traub as having more vision than most retailers, seeing a broader picture and having a shorter temper.
Vice President of the Educational Foundation for the Fashion Industries Sidney Bernstein discusses his childhood and educational development in New York City. The launch of his successful real estate career put him in proximity to myriad furriers in the city. Eventually this led him to become more and more involved with the fur industry. He discusses the origins of the Educational Foundation for the Fashion Industries and its work abroad at the Shenkar School in Israel. Bernstein initially became involved with the Fashion Institute of Technology as a real estate advisor. He describes the Fashion Institute of Technology (New York, N.Y.)?s rising reputation within the fashion industry and how the Institute has become an important asset, particularly for textiles. He briefly discusses scouting physical spaces to facilitate the Fashion Institute of Technology (New York, N.Y.)?s growth, and then explains how he came to found a scholarship for students there. He talks fondly of Thanksgivings spent with international scholarship recipients at his family home and delves a bit into his personal life. Bernstein then circles back to the fur industry and how, in many ways, it is returning to its roots as a family business. Bernstein was the longest serving member of the Fashion Institute of Technology (New York, N.Y.)'s Support Foundation. He passed away in 2004.