Nordstrom’s newest store lacks clothing racks
Los Angeles — The latest addition to the Nordstrom roster looks nothing like a department store and more like an exclusive boutique crossed with a hipster coffee and juice bar.
At Nordstrom Local, a 3,000-square-foot, ivy-covered shop on Melrose Place in Los Angeles’ Beverly Grove neighborhood, customers can meet with a personal stylist, have clothing tailored, get a manicure and sip a beverage laced with caffeine or alcohol.
Just don’t try to browse the racks. Because there aren’t any.
Shea Jensen, Nordstorm’s senior vice president for customer experience, said the new shop, which is much smaller than the chain’s average 140,000-square-foot store, is an experiment emphasizing pampered service and convenience.
“What we are trying to do is bring together the best of our most popular services to a place that is very easy for our customers to access as they are shopping with Nordstrom,” she said.
“Time is a precious commodity and we know that our customers appreciate speed and convenience,” Jensen said. “With Nordstrom Local we are trying to create more accessibility and opportunities.”
Nordstrom’s test concept comes as traditional retailers are being battered by the growing popularity of shopping online and at discount mass merchants, which has eroded mall traffic and hurt profit margins.
Wall Street has been chronically disappointed by recent financial reports from the likes of Nordstrom Inc., Macy’s Inc., J.C. Penney Co. and other mall merchants.
Some retailers have resorted to bankruptcy protection, including Toys R Us Inc., Payless ShoeSource Inc. and Gymboree Corp. Others have gone out of business, such as Bebe Stores Inc. and Sport Chalet.
Nordstrom, which primarily is found at malls with more expensive stores, has held up better than many other retailers, and members of the Nordstrom family who run the Seattle company have been trying to raise money to take it private.
The company operates 121 traditional Nordstrom stores in the U.S. and Canada, 224 Nordstrom Rack discount stores, two Jeffrey boutiques and two clearance stores.
On the same day that Nordstrom Local opened its doors, the company kicked off an opening celebration for a new LA-area Nordstrom. The company is billing the 154,000-square-foot department store as “an updated shopping experience, including new store design concepts and services.”
Retail experts say Nordstrom may be on to something by offering a different, more intimate approach at Nordstrom Local.
The retailer is borrowing a page from several trendy e-commerce sites that have opened bricks-and-mortar storefronts as showrooms to try on clothing or to connect with their fan base.
“There’s a new term for this, which we call ‘retail-tainment,’ ” said Lisa Haddock, who teaches marketing, brand management and consumer behavior at San Diego State University and the San Diego campus of the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising.
It’s designed to be “a fun, unique, personalized experience,” Haddock said. “A customer can have a glass of wine. She can have her nails done. She can relax. You have to have that kind of interaction to engage the customer and reach them on an emotional level.”
Nordstrom Local is designed around a one-stop shopping approach, Jensen said. Customers who have bought items online can pick up their purchases in the store, make sure they fit and get them altered if they don’t.
It’s also designed to accommodate Nordstrom’s Trunk Club, a personalized service offering designer clothing to customers.
Stylists meet with clients near dressing rooms with living room-style furniture for family and friends. Some of the spaces can be made even more private by drawing curtains, like fashion emergency rooms.
Although Nordstrom Local lacks the deep inventory of a traditional store, there is a bar stocked with wine, beer, coffee and pressed juice. The Nail Bar offers an array of manicure services, including nail art.