COLUMBIA, S.C. - It might not be last call just yet for a Columbia thrift shop that supports a local womens shelter.
Longtime Five Points retailer Debbie McDaniel was stunned late Friday when she received a letter from Neiman Marcus. The giant high-end retailer said the name of Reventes Last Call, McDaniels 1,800-square-foot store on Millwood Avenue opened two years ago to support the Womens Shelter, could be confused by consumers with Last Call by Neiman Marcus, a clearance store for the retailers out-of-season clothing and accessories.
In its letter, Neiman Marcus said it owns the trademark for Last Call for clothing sales and Revente must change the name of its charity thrift shop, which donates 100 percent of its profits to the womens shelter.
Neiman Marcus does not have a store in South Carolina. The closest Last Call by Neiman Marcus is more than 220 miles away in Lawrenceville, Ga.
Im just sad that something that was started strictly for good has come under fire, McDaniel said.
Neiman Marcus has owned the trademark since 1993, and cannot pick and choose when to enforce it, company spokeswoman Ginger Reeder said.
Were not trying to shut them down. Were not trying to get in the way of their good work, she said. What we do need to protect is our trademark. We have to be consistent.
The Dallas-based retailer wants an amicable resolution, Reeder said, indicating it could work with Reventes Last Call in some way on its charitable mission. Details, she said, would need to be worked out privately.
Maybe Neiman Marcus will put us in their catalogue or something, joked Kathy Riley, executive director of the Womens Shelter, a home that helps women emerging from bad situations, such as drug addiction or jail, get back on their feet.
In two years, Reventes Last Call has donated more than $40,000 to the charity, helping pay for expenses, such as keeping the lights on and buying food and medicine for the women who live at the shelter.
McDaniel stocks Reventes Last Call with items that she doesnt think would sell at her popular second-hand clothing shop, Revente in Five Points. She also runs the Sid and Nancy clothing shop in Five Points.
For a charity to benefit from a thrift store without having to run it is unusual, Riley said.
The Womens Shelter gets all of the benefit without having to worry about payroll and stocking and doing all the stuff I dont know how to do, said Riley.
For Neiman Marcus to think that somehow or another were infringing upon them, its ludicrous, she said. Were a little gnat.
Attorney James Smith, a Columbia state representative, has taken on McDaniels threatened trademark-infringement case for free and is in talks with Neiman Marcus officials.
They appreciate the mission behind what Debbies doing with Reventes Last Call, Smith said. My hope is out of this comes an even greater opportunity for the Womens Shelter.
There is a way forward that would protect Neiman Marcus trademark and allow Revente to keep the branding it has been building for two years.
They have not agreed to that at this point, but Im hopeful, Smith said. Things like this, it just takes some time.