Traub, Marvin S.

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TRAUB, MARVIN S. (1925– ), U.S. retail executive. Traub, a native New Yorker, became synonymous with one of the city's best-known attractions, Bloomingdale's department store. Under his leadership, it evolved from dowdy to dazzling and turned shopping into show business. It was also on his watch that Bloomingdale's had its darkest days, being forced into a brief period of bankruptcy. Traub was raised in a retailing environment. His mother was a fashion director at Bonwit Teller on Fifth Avenue and his father had a licensing agreement with Christian Dior. After serving in France with the U.S. infantry in World War ii and receiving a Purple Heart for a leg wound, Traub graduated from Harvard College in 1947 and Harvard Business School in 1949. He worked briefly at Macy's and Alexander's, then joined Bloomingdale's in 1950. It would be his employer for the next 41 years. When Traub arrived, the store's wares were modestly priced, "a notch below Gimbel's," he once recalled. His first assignment was to manage the 49-cent bargain hosiery table. By 1959, Traub had risen to vice president of home products and he made history by sending his buyers to Italy to look for everything from flatware to furniture. The Casa Bella promotion became the first of Bloomingdale's import events, presaging the transformation of the store into one of the most dynamic retailing operations in the U.S. The import promotions spread to other departments and eventually were storewide. Traub also advanced the concept of in-store boutiques, a key retail development. He was named president of Bloomingdale's in 1960 and chairman in 1978, retaining that post until he retired in 1991. That year, he was awarded the National Retail Federation's Gold Medal. From 1988 to 1992, Traub was also a vice chairman of Federated Department Stores, Bloomingdale's owner. In 1992, he formed Marvin Traub Associates, a marketing and consulting business. He was a senior advisor to Financo, an investment banking firm. In 1993, Traub co-authored Like No Other Store in the World, a chronicle of his triumphs at Bloomingdale's and an unsparing critique of Robert Campeau, a Canadian real estate tycoon who borrowed billions to complete a hostile takeover of the store in 1988. Pressed by debt, Campeau put Bloomingdale's up for sale. Traub tried and failed to buy the store, which was driven into bankruptcy in 1990 and emerged from it in 1992.


M. Traub and T. Teicholz, Like No Other Store in the World (1993).

[Mort Sheinman (2nd ed.)]