The planning of a flagship Nordstrom in New York City officially began in 2012. But opening Thursday is the culmination of decades of ambition.
After years of searching for suitable properties, the successful Seattle retailer finally has a place among New York's retail panton: Bergdorf Goodman. Saks Fifth Avenue. Bloomingdales. Barneys.
Now, say analysts, the question is whether the seven-story flagship, the retailer's first women's store in New York, will propel the company's staggering revenue or sink Nordstrom in the red.
By some accounts, Nordstrom is betting $ 500 million on the former. The company, which led reporters on a tour of the glossy store on Monday, will not say how much it has invested.
But in a slick promotional video for assembled journalists, Nordstrom's management said "the stakes are super high" for this store.
Large sectors in big boxes have had declining revenues when customers lack e-commerce ̵[ads1]1; part of Nordstrom's business that has seen positive growth in recent quarters.
But the company's management believes that customers will want to buy personally what they characterized on a Monday trip as a world-class shop. It's partly based on their experience last year in opening a ritzy two-story menswear store across the street from the flagship, though men's clothing has had a higher return than women in recent years. In New York, Nordstrom also operates two price-based Nordstrom Racks and two recently opened Nordstrom Locals, where customers can pick up, try and make changes to clothing they have ordered online.
At one point in the summer, Nordstrom traded down 60% from last year's high of $ 66 per share, the lowest price point in 10 years, while the S&P index for the retail trade doubled during the same period. Stock prices have fallen somewhat since then, but revenue is still in decline, partly due to what executives recognized in ours were "executive losses."
For the store to succeed, it will have to move substantially more product than Nordstrom branches in lower rents.
The flagship of New York is at the foot of the tallest residential building in the world, the pencil-thin, ultra-high, 1,550-foot-high Central Park Tower at 225 W. 57th St., which is still under construction. So many similar towers, where condos sell for tens of millions of dollars, have been built along the southern edge of Central Park that the neighborhood is known as "Billionaires & # 39; Row."
Billionaires, Nordstrom says, come in.
While the goal was to sell "everything from Vans to Valentinos," as Chief Merchandising Officer Teri Bariquit put it, this store is targeting a significant high-end consumer, especially when compared to Nordstrom's now closed Northgate branch.
On entry, the design is still evident Nordstrom: It is large, light and white.
But there are subtle differences between this store and Nordstrom's other offerings. Firstly, there are not so many clothes on the racks – which signal that the shopping experience here strives for store-bought ice cream.
The entire third floor is donated to designer clothing, where brands such as Chloe, Givenchy and Yves Saint Laurent have carved pastel-colored showrooms, each half hidden behind curtains. (Does it call for thought of burnt out chain mail? Or a fence bet? The jury is out.)
At the children's section, past the small Fendi stand, tots can see the shoes they will try to roll out on a carousel.
Downstairs, Nordstrom has partnered with Burberry and Nike to develop pocket stores in the department store and showcase the brands' offerings on top lines.
Up two stairs from the main level, Burberry Square is papered on walls, ceilings and floors with the London coatmaker's new orange-white logo. Around the corner: A miniature reproduction of a fashion runway, complete with high-political coliseum seating, laden orchestral music and a rack of very elaborate trench coats hanging over the "runway." In the showroom, lush carpeted in taupe, scarves were attached to the cabinets like trophy skins mounted on a wall.
There's a lot to take in.
While it may not be for New Yorkers, just down the stairs, the Nordstrom x Nike store is tricked out with red velvet walls. A pure gold dress (not by Nike, because "no one wears a mark-to-toe one brand anyway," according to Vice President of Creative Projects Olivia Kim, who helped design the space) hangs in a hollow window framed by rose quartz. Chewed pieces of recycled track, reconstituted into sofas and tables, gently shimmer under light. And of course: There are many, many running shoes.
The store spans two airy basements and five above ground level, but there are enough alcoves to make it feel safe.
Above the jewelery floor – where there is a machine to permanently solder bracelets on the wrist of the shop, and the staff of jewelery maker Maria Tash is present part of the week to ear and then fill these piercings with diamonds and gold – makeup sold in Beauty Hall. Another staircase is Beauty Haven, a full-service tropical-themed spa inspired by the Beverly Hills Hotel.
Another hidden hole: The Wolf restaurant on the second floor, run by Seattle restaurateur Ethan Stowell of Tavolata and How to Make a Wolf Fame. Wolf also feeds a bistro, filled with a pattern of pale pink roses, located in the Burberry room.
The menu nods to Seattle abounds, including dishes with Beecher cheese. The food is largely an exclusive version of what is served at a Nordstrom Cafe (pasta, salad, steak, fish).
Nordstrom has been in the restaurant business for 70 years, but this branch contains more eateries than anywhere else, said restaurant manager Vince Rosetti – part of the company's plan to lure buyers into the space by offer services that are not exceptional.
Downstairs, Seattle's second celebrity chef, Tom Douglas, runs two full-service restaurants – Hani Pacific, Asian-inspired; and Jeannie, Italian-inspired – and an outpost of OH Mochi Donuts (which can be eaten in Seattle on Via6 on Sixth Avenue and Lenora Street). Three other restaurants, including a cocktail bar in the shed, bring the total of dining options to seven.
A lot of the store's services are catered specifically to New Yorkers, including gift wrapping ("We learned through market research that New Yorkers don't have room to store wrapping paper," said a spokesperson); personalization (for example, custom denim embroidery); necessary, in the city where people go more than anywhere else in America, per FitBit); and 24-hour pickup for online bookings (especially useful for jet-lagged travelers, said Senior Director of Customer Service Shea Jensen).
Part of Nordstrom's strategy for success with this store depends on only the travelers: tourists, who can learn about the Nordstrom brand for the first time on the flagship and then order online in their home country.
But fashion consultant Nancy Jiang, discovered to get into a Coach shop at the high-end Columbus Center shopping mall two blocks away from Nordstrom's 57th Street perch, said she did not know if tourists could support an entire store. former Ralph Lauren vice president, said she has not yet been sold on the idea of the new Nordstrom.
"You think of Nordstrom more like a mall," she said. "It's not typical New York."
The location in New York, said Neil Saunders, CEO of GlobalData Retail, underlines Nordstrom's plans to continue investing in shopping. But, he said, only time will tell if the store will be a success.
"What it (the New York store) does is up for debate," he said. “Is it a brand ambassador? Is it a place people should experience? "
Or, most importantly for the store:" Is there a place where people should buy? "