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Shop talk

Posted by Jan Freeman, keep until April  September 13, 2007 12:47 PM

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No, I haven’t yet mingled with the throngs of shopperazzi celebrating the arrival of Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus at the newly upscaled Natick Collection, formerly Natick Mall. (That’s why we have the Stylephile crew). But I’ve been monitoring the excitement in my own sedentary, text-centric, nitpicking way.

The first language oddity came in a mailing from Nordstrom, inviting me to enjoy the rewards of using a Nordstrom credit card. The (modest) perks escalate, of course, as the outlay does: To hit the top level, you need “a minimum annual net spend of $20,000 at Nordstrom on your Nordstrom card.”


No doubt the lawyers are responsible for all the preemptive redundancy. But what’s with the “net spend”? That’s not English -- at least, not everyday consumer-friendly American English. The Nexis news database found the phrase only 13 times (over 30 years) in US papers, and five of those were in the trade-oriented Variety.

It’s not that spend can’t be a noun, of course. But net spend is budget jargon; in an invitation aspiring to stylishness, it clashes like a cheap handbag.

But wait, there’s more: Next came a newspaper insert from Neiman Marcus, offering free treats at its opening. In honor of the store’s 100th birthday, visitors were invited to sample “one of those infamous chocolate chip cookies you’ve heard about.” I didn’t bite; I don’t know how a cookie achieves infamy, but I can’t say I’m eager to find out.

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