A Neiman Marcus store opened its doors in Walnut Creek, the first for the chain in the East Bay, but not without a huge battle. Neiman Marcus hasn't opened a new store in two years. The company is very selective about expanding, but the company has locked in on Walnut Creek. It chose the city for a reason and has worked very patiently and very hard to reach this point.
There was no sign of any bad feelings as Neiman Marcus opened its doors in Walnut Creek. Among the cheers and pom poms, you wouldn't know there was a big struggle to reach this point and a section of people who fought to keep it from happening. Walnut Creek Mayor Bob Simmons says the city has moved on. "I think the negativity is gone. I think the people very negative on it have accepted that it is here," he said.
Thos who opposed it were concerned about parking and congestion, and even got the issue to the ballot. A rival mall company supported the campaign in the hopes of getting Neiman's into a mall in San Ramon, but the voters overwhelmingly said yes to Neiman Marcus. "It seemed like it was never going to happen but now that it's here, I'm very excited to get in there and see the shoes and handbags," Samantha Versosky told ABC7.
It's not just shoppers who felt like celebrating Friday. The store means 200 new jobs to the area. Crystal Mosqueta has been unemployed since getting laid off a year ago. She says, "It was very difficult to find a job. A lot of places weren't really hiring because there was just so many people looking." She screamed when she landed a job at Neiman's. She's hoping this is a good sign that the economy is coming back. Walnut Creek's mayor hopes so too. "We have a retail store vacancy rate in the downtown of under three percent which is really, really good. So, that's just an indicator that Walnut Creek is doing well," he said.
Nieman's would not discuss projections, but city officials are hoping to get anywhere from $400,000 to $600,000 a year in tax revenue from Nieman Marcus.