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Nordstrom, Inc. (NYSE: JWN) is an upscale department store chain in the United States, founded by John W. Nordstrom and Carl F. Wallin. Initially a shoe retailer, the company today also sells clothing, accessories, handbags, jewelry, cosmetics, fragrances, and in some locations, home furnishings. The corporate headquarters and the flagship store are located in Downtown Seattle, Washington.
Nordstrom has grown from a regional department store to a national chain by opening new stores rather than by acquisition of other retailers.
By 1975, Nordstrom expanded into Alaska (the only time by acquisition) by purchasing Northern Commercial Company and opened its first Nordstrom Rack clearance store in Seattle. A strong northwest regional retailer with sales already approaching $250 million (making it the third-largest specialty retailer in the U.S.), it opened its first Southern California store at Costa Mesa in 1978. By the early 1990s, it had opened 26 stores plus Racks in California. Subsequent expansion relied on creating a strongly decentralized regional structure, beginning with the Northeast (Tyson’s Corner, 1988), Midwest (Oak Brook Mall, 1991), Southeast (Atlanta, 1998), and Southwest (Dallas, 1996) to which the California stores were added. In a new region, the initial store was used as a base for training and recruitment for subsequent expansion, and was usually backed by its own distribution center. From 1978 to 1995, Nordstrom opened a total of 46 full-line department stores.
PLACE TWO: In 1976, Nordstrom opened a series of stores called Place Two to sell a more limited selection of apparel in smaller markets. By 1983, there were ten Place Two stores, but the cost of upgrading the smaller stores, especially from a systems perspective, outweighed the benefit, and the division was discontinued.
FLAGSHIP: In 1998, Nordstrom replaced its downtown Seattle store with a new flagship location in the former Frederick & Nelson building across the street. At 383,000 square feet (35,600 m2), the downtown Seattle location is the chain’s largest store. By contrast, the smallest Nordstrom store (as of September 2008) opened in 1980 in Salem, Oregon and has a total area of just under 72,000 square feet (6,700 m2).
DIRECT: The company also expanded into direct sales in 1993, beginning with a catalog division led by John N.’s son Dan that was followed by an e-commerce business. Nordstrom.com’s fulfillment and contact center is located in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Currently, it has distribution centers in Ontario, California; Portland, Oregon; Dubuque, Iowa; Upper Marlboro, Maryland; and Gainesville, Florida.
As the stores expanded in size, restaurants were added beginning in 1979, reaching their peak with the then-largest (and most expensive) Westfield San Francisco Centre California flagship store that opened in 1989, that included no fewer than four restaurants as well as an English pub. Recently, the “Espresso Bar” from older stores has been discontinued and re-introduced as the “eBar” with offering a variety of quick-fix snacks, and an expanded “hotbar” drink list. Smaller stores (mostly consisting of two-stories) now have an “in-House Cafe,” which offers the same menu but with seating. Nordstrom has also revised its four restaurants (found in select larger stores), the casual “Classic Cafe” and “Marketplace Cafe,” the “Cafe Bistro” specializing in brick oven entrees and the “Nordstrom Grill” offering food and alcoholic beverages.
Currently, Nordstrom operates 115 full-line department stores, 86 Nordstrom Rack clearance stores, two Jeffrey Boutiques, and one final clearance store (Last Chance) all located in 28 different states. They have recently sold (2007) their stand-alone boutique chain Façonnable. Nordstrom also operates a retail bank based in Scottsdale, Arizona.