Swedish immigrant John Nordstrom first set foot on American soil in 1887 with little education and even fewer possessions. He worked his way westward, taking on a variety of jobs until he accumulated enough to purchase a potato farm outside of Seattle. At the age of 26, he sought his fortune amongst thousands of others by taking part in the Klondike Gold Rush — and came out with $13,000 richer. With his newfound wealth, Nordstrom settled in Seattle with his wife and partnered with shoe repairman Carl Wallin to open the Wallin & Nordstrom shoe store in 1901.
A business philosophy focsused on selection and service helped the partners build a customer base, leading to the opening of a second Seattle store in 1923. Nordstrom retired and sold his share of the company to his sons in 1928, and Wallin followed suit a year later, placing the business entirely within the Nordstrom family. The shoe chain continued to grow, adding clothing with the purchase of Seattle-based store Best Apparel in 1963. Expanding quickly, Nordstrom went public in 1971 and opened its first Nordstrom Rack discount store in 1975.
Today, Nordstrom operates 225 stores in 30 states. This includes 117 full-line department stores, 104 Nordstrom Rack locations, two Jeffrey luxury boutiques, a treasure&bond specialty boutique and a clearance store. The company also serves customers through catalog and online sales and operates in the online private sale marketplace through subsidiary HauteLook, acquired in early 2011.
The upscale department store sells over 30 brands of intimate apparel for women at mid-range and higher price points from brands including Anita, Chantelle, Cosabella, La Perla, Natori and Wacoal. The store also employs certified prosthesis fitters and coordinators to assist customers dealing with breast cancer and surgery and offers products like mastectomy bras, Amoena brand attachable breast forms, post-mastectomy camisoles, and enhancers and equalizers for patients of lumpectomies and reconstructive surgery.
Nordstrom also carries over 20 different brands of underwear for men, including Calvin Klein, Emporio Armani and Michael Kors. Briefs cost as low as $8, while silk boxers retail for $50 and shaping undershirts with compression technology can run from $70 to $80. Both men and women can benefit from the company’s completely free personal shopping service.
In 2012, Nordstrom plans to open three locations in Seattle, Salt Lake City and Tysons Corner, Va., while plans for two additional locations in Oyster Bay, N.Y. and San Juan, Puerto Rico are currently being developed.