Saks. Gadgets. Seriously?


I got an e-mail from Saks Fifth Avenue last night that gave me pause, and not because of the deal it was advertising ("spend some get some," which rewards customers with gift cards depending on how much they spend).

No, it was the photo in the e-mail that took me aback. The e-mails I get from Saks usually include a picture of a luscious handbag, a sleek shoe or a frothy frock -- each of them worth hundreds or thousands of dollars.

The e-mail I got yesterday was different: it had a photo of two models of Garmin GPS navigators.

I thought: Get serious. This might be the feeblest little blip on the recession-marketing radar I've seen yet. Sure, a GPS system is a lot more practical than an ostrich-skin tote.

But until today, I never even realized Saks carried electronics -- and other than the ultimate directionless, rich gift buyer, I can't imagine anyone who would ever go to Saks for gadgets.

But there it was on the Saks Web site -- a full range of Garmins. I did some more research and realized that the store isn't alone -- Neiman Marcus carries electronics ranging from Bose speakers to Panasonic razors.

In a time when stores like Saks are trying to cut costs by doing things like closing their bridal boutiques nationwide -- and in a time when we have stores like Wal-Mart, Target, K-Mart and Best Buy -- doesn't it make sense for upscale department stores to lose the electronics?

I'd like to hear from readers on this one. Have any of you ever purchased a gadget at an upscale department store -- or can you think of a reason why you would?