Why the Nordstrom NYC Flagship Is Chasing Locals

Get out your Retail Experience Bingo cards: After 20 years in development, Nordstrom’s NYC flagship will finally open tomorrow on 57th and Broadway in Manhattan. With it, Nordstrom’s managed to pack as many retail trends as possible under one 320,000-sq.-ft. roof.

For the trendsetters: It’ll carry all the classic luxury department store brands, plus rotating pop-ups for up-and-comers like Everlane and Reformation.

For the beauty junkies: 14,000 sq. ft. of beauty products spread across two floors, plus services from blowouts to Botox injections.

For foodies: There are seven food and bev concepts. Customers will eat it up—because food already accounts for one of every four Nordstrom purchases in stores.

Nordstrom hearts NYC

Manhattan is Nordstrom’s No.1 market for online sales. It’s hoping to channel that enthusiasm into $700 million in annual sales in the borough.

The gift cards are stacked against it. Rising rents and declining foot traffic have pushed other NYC department stores to the brink, like Saks (which closed its downtown location) and Barneys (which may lose multiple stores in bankruptcy proceedings).

But Nordstrom’s flagship has a backup fleet. It’ll be supplemented by its two “Nordstrom Local” concept stores, smaller shops where neighborhood customers can go for services like online returns and personal styling consultations.

  • Buy online, pick up in-store hubs circulate more products into the area, smoothing out returns and exchanges at the flagship while giving Nordstrom a chance to show off its customer service chops.
  • Nordstrom Locals don’t carry their own inventory, but their stylists can pull up to 30 items per customer from the flagship.

It’s already working on the West Coast. Nordstrom’s Los Angeles footprint includes 16 full size department stores and three Nordstrom Local shops. Local customers spend 2.5x more on average than regular customers, the company says.

My takeaway: Nordstrom’s flagship ticks each box on the shopping destination checklist. But its real value, Nordstrom hopes, is creating a retail ecosystem that balances novelty and convenience.

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