Bergdorf Goodman

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Bergdorf Goodman
Industry Retail
Department store
Founded 1899
Headquarters New York City, United States
Number of locations
Key people
Bruce Pask (Creative designer)[1]
Products Clothing, footwear, bedding, furniture, jewelry, beauty products, and housewares
Parent Neiman Marcus Group

Bergdorf Goodman is a luxury goods department store based on Fifth Avenue in Midtown Manhattan in New York City. The company was founded in 1899 by Herman Bergdorf and was later owned and managed by Edwin Goodman, and later his son Andrew Goodman.

Today, Bergdorf operates from two stores situated across the street from each other at Fifth Avenue between 57th and 58th streets. Bergdorf Goodman's main store, which opened at its current location in 1928, is located on the west side of Fifth Avenue. A separate men's store, established in 1990, is located on the east side of Fifth Avenue, directly across the street.

Bergdorf is a subsidiary of Neiman Marcus, which is owned by the private equity firms TPG Capital and Warburg Pincus.


Founding and early history (1899–1951)[edit]

The company traces its origins to 1899 when Herman Bergdorf, an immigrant from Alsace, France, opened a tailor shop just above Union Square in downtown Manhattan.

Bergdorf Goodman

Edwin Goodman, a 23-year old, American Jewish[2] merchant, based in Lockport, New York, moved to New York City to work as an apprentice for Bergdorf. Within two years, Goodman had raised enough money to purchase an interest in the business, which was renamed Bergdorf Goodman in 1901. In 1906, Bergdorf Goodman moved to a new location on 32nd Street, just west of Fifth Avenue and "Ladies' Mile". While Bergdorf preferred the less expensive side street location, Goodman prevailed with the new location and bought out Bergdorf's interest in the company. Bergdorf would retire to Paris.

Although Goodman had developed a good business as a ladies' tailor on 32nd Street, in 1914, he decided to move uptown. Goodman constructed a five-story building at 616 Fifth Avenue, on the site of what is today Rockefeller Center.[3] In 1914, Goodman became the first couturier to introduce ready-to-wear, making Bergdorf Goodman a destination for American and French fashion.

The store moved to its present location at 5th Avenue and 58th Street in 1928, building its Beaux-Arts style store on the site of the Cornelius Vanderbilt II mansion. As he was unsure of the success of the new store's location, (it was uncertain whether customers would follow the store uptown), Goodman designed the new store so that it could be broken up into sections with different storefronts that could be rented out if needed. Early tenants included Van Cleef & Arpels, the Grande Maison de Blanc and Dobbs the Hatter.[4] During the Great Depression, however, Goodman thrived, buying the entire building. Throughout the 1930s, Goodman purchased the mortgages of the surrounding businesses, eventually acquiring the entire block. During this period, Bergdorf Goodman was successful enough to have merited an expansion beyond the single store. However, Goodman preferred to operate in a single location where he would be able to personally maintain the quality of the merchandise and service.

The second generation (1951–1972)[edit]

Miss Bergdorf dress from Taffy, designer Anne T. Hill, 1956

Goodman's son, Andrew, assumed the role of president in 1951 and succeeded as head of the company in 1953, following the death of his father.[5] Andrew was responsible for enhancing Bergdorf's reputation and expanding its range of merchandise and services.

During Andrew's tenure as chairman, Bergdorf opened a fur salon, developed the successful Bergdorf Goodman Number Nine perfume ("Love Potion Number Nine"), and created Miss Bergdorf, a ready-to-wear line for younger customers.

The store began a $1 million expansion in 1959 into two adjacent buildings. The Boys and Girls gift shop expanded into a whole floor, and the beauty salon and bridal, fur and men's departments also expanded. Eight years later, a $2.5 million expansion in 1967 nearly doubled the store's area, to 120,000 square feet (11,000 m2).[5]

New ownership (1972–1990)[edit]

In 1972, Andrew Goodman sold Bergdorf Goodman to Broadway-Hale Stores, which would become Carter Hawley Hale Stores for $12.5 million.[5] CHH had acquired Neiman Marcus, a three-unit operation at the time, in 1969. By the time of the sale, Bergdorf Goodman was the only large high-quality specialty store in the U.S. that remained independently owned.[5] However, its decision not to build suburban branches left it with a relatively modest profit margin. He remained the landlord of the store and kept a penthouse apartment on the building's top floor.[5]

A Badgley Mischka fur coat on display in the window of Bergdorf Goodman's Fifth Avenue store.

At first, CHH considered building branch locations, ultimately only constructing one location, in nearby White Plains, New York in 1972. This location was eventually converted to a Neiman Marcus branch store in 1981. To combat its image difficulties, the company hired Dawn Mello in 1975 as vice president of fashion. She was successful in reinvigorating the conservative store and became president in 1984. She left her post in 1989 to work for the floundering Italian fashion house Gucci, though she returned to her post as president in 1994.

Bergdorf Goodman's parent company became the object of takeover bids in the 1980s, and as a way to maintain its independence, Carter Hawley completed a major financial restructuring. In 1987, Bergdorf Goodman was spun off, together with Neiman Marcus and Contempo Casuals to form Neiman Marcus Group. The new company was headquartered in Dallas, Texas, where the significantly larger Neiman Marcus had been based for 80 years.

Reaching the centennial (1990–present)[edit]

Chairman and CEO Ira Neimark expanded the women's store three times in the 1990s. The men's store was moved across the street to the old FAO Schwarz space at 745 Fifth Avenue in 1990. This move made it possible to make more space available for women's fashions. In 1997, the penthouse apartment on the building's ninth floor (formerly the Goodman family residence) was converted into the John Barrett Salon and Susan Ciminelli Day Spa. In 1999, the Beauty Level opened directly below the main floor, offering a luxury spa and Goodman's Café, serving lunch and afternoon tea.[6]

In 2002, Bergdorf Goodman underwent a major renovation, during which artisans and craftspeople began a dramatic restoration of the main floor of the women's store. In 2003, the store introduced new boutiques for Chanel, Giorgio Armani, Gucci, Versace, and Yves Saint Laurent. The Bergdorf Goodman Men's store features exclusive brands such as Loro Piana, Kiton, Brunello Cucinelli, John Lobb, Thom Browne, Bontoni, Tom Ford, and Charvet. Bergdorf's competition includes other high-end retailers such as Bloomingdale's, Lord & Taylor, Barneys New York, Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom, and owner Neiman Marcus.

On May 2, 2005, Bergdorf's parent company, Neiman Marcus Group, was acquired in a leveraged buyout (LBO), selling itself to two private equity firms, Texas Pacific Group and Warburg Pincus.[7]

In popular culture[edit]

Bergdorf Goodman has found its way into a variety of movies and television shows over the years. In the 1953 movie, How to Marry a Millionaire, Lauren Bacall's character, Schatze Page, reprimands Betty Grable's character, Loco Dempsey, and says "Next thing you got to remember is the gentlemen you meet at the cold cuts counter may not be as attractive as the one you meet in the mink department at Bergdorf's." In the 1962 movie That Touch of Mink, Doris Day is feted by Cary Grant with a shopping spree at Bergdorf Goodman, and the store is mentioned several times in the film. In the credits of the film, Bergdorf Goodman is thanked "for being Bergdorf Goodman". In the 1965 CBS television special My Name Is Barbra, Barbra Streisand's first television special. Streisand and her crew filmed one of their major sequences on location on the ground floor and the fur department of Bergdorf Goodman, She arrives in front of Bergdorf Goodman with a horse carriage then she vamps in exotic fur coats and specially designed hats by Halston to a medley of poverty songs, including "Second Hand Rose", "Give Me the Simple Life" and "Brother Can You Spare a Dime." The special at the time was a huge risk for Streisand not having any major guest stars but only filmed on location by herself and some musicians. The special was later awareded with two Emmys and a Peabody Award. In the 1966 film Penelope, the main character, played by Natalie Wood, uses the proceeds of a bank robbery to purchase her disguise at Bergdorf's. In the 1970 film Airport, a woman coming in from France is stopped at customs after failing to declare her purchases. "Look at the Bergdorf Goodman labels!" she replies, although they have obviously been altered. In a 1974 episode of Rhoda, Phyllis shows up late for her wedding, drawing everyone's attention. "Well," she exclaims, "apparently this dress is everything the woman at Bergdorf's said it would be!" In the 1981 film Arthur, Dudley Moore is shopping for sweaters at Bergdorf's when he sees Linda (Liza Minnelli) shoplifting a tie there. In the 1986 Facts of Life episode "The Little Chill", Sue Ann Weaver returns to Peekskill, New York, now a highly-paid executive wearing clothes supposedly purchased at Bergdorf's ("Just a little number I picked up at Bergdorf's"). Her story is later revealed as false.

In North by Northwest, Eva Marie Saint's purse with the gun concealed in it is from Bergdorf Goodman.

Bergdorf Goodman was a favorite shopping spot for Sex And The City's main character, Carrie Bradshaw. It was featured in the opening to Sex and the City 2, with the girls meeting at the entrance of the store and buying wedding gifts there. On Boston Legal, Michael J. Fox's character tells Julie Bowen's character, "You know that coat you liked in the window of Bergdorf Goodman's? I'll buy you Bergdorf Goodman's." On the MTV series The City, Whitney Port's friend Samantha works as an assistant buyer at Bergdorf and there have also been scenes shot in the BG Restaurant. On the 11th episode of the third season of The Apprentice on NBC, a winning team was given a shopping spree at Bergdorf Goodman. Bergdorf's also figures into the lyrics of Jay-Z's 2007 song, "30 Something", and one of the main characters of Plum Sykes' 2005 novel, Bergdorf Blondes, is a descendant of the store's founding family.

In 2001, it was the subject of the documentary film Dita and the Family Business.[8]

The opening sequence to "That Girl" where Marlo Thomas looks at a mannequin of herself in a store window was shot at Bergdorf's and the window was designed by Halston.

In 2013, Bergdorf Goodman was the subject of a full-length feature documentary, starring fashion moguls, celebrities, and the high profile employees connected to Bergdorf's.


  1. ^ Palmieri, Jean E. (13 March 2014). "Bruce Pask Takes Men's Fashion Post at Bergdorf Goodman". WWD. Retrieved 13 March 2014. 
  2. ^ The New York Times Biographical Service, Volume 2, Arno Press, 1971, page 3390
  3. ^ "Fight in Fifth Ave. Tailors' Strike" (PDF). The New York Times. February 20, 1915. Retrieved 2011-11-19. 
  4. ^ Gray, Christopher (August 30, 1998). "The Bergdorf Goodman Building on Fifth Avenue; From Architectural Links to Common Ownership". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-11-19. 
  5. ^ a b c d e Lambert, Bruce (April 5, 1993). "Andrew Goodman, 86, Bergdorf's Innovator, Dies". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-11-19. 
  6. ^ Barmash, Isadore (August 18, 1988). "Bergdorf Weighs a Satellite Store". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-11-19. 
  7. ^ Neiman Marcus in $5.1B buyout CNN Money, May 2, 2005
  8. ^ "Dita and the Family Business". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved 5 July 2011. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 40°45′49″N 73°58′27″W / 40.7635°N 73.9742°W / 40.7635; -73.9742