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How Nordstrom’s New NYC Fashion Store Will Focus On Locals

Mark your calendars. Thursday, October 24 2019 will be the opening date for the new Nordstrom ladies fashion store in NYC. The huge 363,000 square foot store will be on 57th Street near Columbus Circle and certainly be a flagship.

Management has been anxious to make sure that New Yorkers will come to think of the store as ‘their store’, not a tourist attraction. Merchandise will be selected to match New Yorkers’ tastes. There will be Levy Jeans, Adidas, and Van’s shoes for the budget minded while Balenciaga, Dior, Valentino, and Bottega Veneta will be presented for the upper end fashion-smart customers.

Nordstrom already knows New York customers – through its men’s store that opened at Columbus Circle last year and two Rack stores that opened on 14th Street and on 6th Avenue. The company also plans to open two Local Stores, one in the West Village on 7th Avenue and 12th Street. The other Local store will be on the Upper East Side on 3rd Avenue near 73rd Street. These two stores will be similar to three opened in Los Angeles. They do not carry merchandise, but are there for customers to pick-up merchandise already purchased, handle alterations, and advise customers on fashion choices. The three stores in Los Angeles have been very successful and give caring customer service.

These openings have been anticipated by the retail community for several years. Major retailers have already prepared for the new competitor who claims New York as its second largest market. (Los Angeles is first.) Bergdorf Goodman had a complete makeover. The Bloomingdale’s renovation tore the store apart, and the result is a gem. The Saks Fifth Avenue redo was a big surprise. Cosmetics and fragrances moved to the second floor and was replaced by fashion accessories, handbags, and men’s accessories. Beautifully executed, but for me it is still a puzzler. The rest of the store, including all fashion floors and the new restaurant, are beautiful.

So, the major competitors are ready. But, even more has been going on. Macy’s has done some shifting as well, and its new Story department is supposed to be a major attraction. The jury is still out on Story since some of the effort fizzled. A little farther south, at Hudson’s Yards, Neiman Marcus is catering visitors who walk the High Line and climb the Vessel.

Could all of this cause a shift of customer shopping from the East Side of New York to the West Side? After all, Nordstrom will have a ‘flagships’ on the West Side, there will be Macy’s with its promotional programs at Herald Square, and Neiman’s and Hudson Yards as well. It might change city shopping, although some customers will stick to their favorite store. New York City’s effort to curtail auto traffic in New York may help the West Side depending on the strength of Nordstrom’s promotional program.

Nordstrom has many new ideas for merchandising, services, and customer care. I will review them when the new store opens. Management has also just announced that it has achieved pay equity across race and gender for its employees. It means equal pay for comparable work at all levels of the company. Adjustments for the company were minimal, but it shows farsighted leadership by management.

With the opening of the New York flagship store, I expect the New York market to quickly become the top market for Nordstrom.