Books by Tom Teicholz

Released: Nov. 1, 1993

An autobiographical account of the rise and fall of one of the nation's most dazzling shopping emporiums, written by its former longtime chairman, a hale-fellow-well-met who, in the late 1980's, was forced out by Canadian Robert Campeau, presaging the end of a hugely profitable and idiosyncratic retailing era. The first two thirds of Traub's story are slow-going— describing his privileged but lonely childhood with his parents (well-know fashion buyers in New York in the 1930's), as well as the gradually changing world of department stores after the end of WW II, when Traub, fresh out of Harvard Business School, joined Bloomingdale's as a trainee in its vast basement bargain floor. Traub rose through the ranks quickly, always advancing the notion of a ``neighborhood store'' for the world's most fashionable women and promoting the concept of in-store boutiques—a Bloomingdale's signature-idea first deployed in the home-furnishings department in the 1950's. Aided by a bevy of buyers, managers, and mentors (here named and fully credited but blandly characterized: ``she had a pleasant personality''), Traub employed the boutique concept to showcase brilliant young American and European designers, vaulting Bloomingdale's to the apex of retailing success in the 60's, 70's and early 80's. But then—as detailed in the most gripping part of the book—the forces of blind greed entered in the person of Robert Campeau, a secretly bankrupt manic-depressive machinist-turned- real-estate tycoon who was determined to own Federated Department Stores, a Bloomingdale's parent. Campeau soon bankrupted the Bloomingdale's stores for tax purposes; fighting back, Traub- -represented and, he says, betrayed by Drexel Burnham (the narrative's arch-villain)—tried and failed to buy the store. He then proceeded, with a number of old Bloomingdale's hands, to reenter the world of home furnishings by buying Conran's Habitat, a decorating chain. Sluggish but worth wading through. (Appendix predicting the future of retailing; 16 pages of b&w photographs—not seen) Read full book review >