Carl Timpone for BFA
By Phil Wahba
December 3, 2015

Neiman Marcus is famous for its lavish annual Christmas Book, a catalog of outlandishly expensive and extravagant gifts for the super wealthy.

The book, which is really more a marketing ploy than something that generates sales, has origins that go back to 1915, when its first incarnation served as a Christmas card inviting customers to the store to start their holiday shopping.

This year, items in the catalog are being used to invite customers to a store, but with a twist. For the first time, Neiman is putting some of the items in the Christmas Book on public display. The retailer has just staged an exhibit at the upscale Roosevelt Field Mall in Garden City, Long Island as part of its efforts to drum up interest among the wealthy shoppers in the New York City suburbs ahead of a new store opening on February 19.

Neiman will show off five gifts in the exhibit, including a motorcycle built and designed by Keanu Reeves and Gard Hollinger, the co-owner of Reeves’ Arch Motorcycle. There are only three such bikes for sale, each going for $150,000. Customers will also get a look at the The Orphan Barrel Project of rare whiskeys, which comes with a trip to Kentucky, among other items.

“This is a way to generate excitement in the mall beyond the regular advertising that’s to be expected,” says Mimi Sterling, a spokesperson for Neiman. “This is to capitalize on the incredible holiday foot traffic at Roosevelt Field.”

The Long Island store will be Neiman’s 42nd full department store, a fleet that includes two locations in the New York area. (Neiman, which also owns Bergdorf Goodman’s emporium in New York, is set to open its first namesake Manhattan store in 2018 at Hudson Yards.)

Roosevelt Field is already home to stores operated by rivals Bloomingdale’s (a unit of Macy’s Inc (M)) and Nordstrom, (JWN), adding to the pressure on Neiman to make a splash.

As for the mall itself, which is operated by Simon Property Group (SPG) and one of the top-grossing in the country, the Neiman display is a way to keep things interesting for customers at a time when developers are cognizant of how easy it is for shoppers to simply buy online.

“Showcasing Neiman Marcus’ Fantasy Gifts for the first time in a shopping center is a perfect example of our desire to create bespoke experiences that add excitement,” says Chidi Achara, Simon’s Global Creative Director.

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