The doors are finally open at Nordstrom's first New York City store. It has been a long wait for the company to finally enter the city, and though it has already opened a series of off-price Nordstrom Rack stores here, this is the first iteration of the retailer's full-price concept to reach NYC, even if it is really an adjunct unit to the grand flagship store still under construction across Broadway. That store is now projected to open in time for the Fall 2019 season.
Of course, this is no ordinary Nordstrom branch. Not only is it the company's first all-menswear store, but it is also the rare unit that has been constructed within an existing building creating some unusual architectural challenges that we will get to later. First, let's get to the important bit: What's in the store? Those New Yorkers who don't get to suburban malls very often may not be familiar with Nordstrom's merchandising strategy. For Manhattanites, it can probably be best compared to Bloomingdale's (minus the furniture, kitchen and home furnishings departments) in the sense that it's merchandise can range, depending on the location, from Misses and Young Men's categories up to the most exclusive international luxury labels. On the whole, it is one of the most important mens retailers in the country, and most of its vendors can reliably count it as its biggest retail client by far, so a separate men's store makes sense for the chain. It also allows the retailer to open in the city about 18 months ahead of the rest of its splashy main flagship. Nordstrom has traditionally had something of a middle-of-the road fashion image as far as menswear goes, but it has has gone about updating that over the past decade. For this store, the first designer racks you see entering through the doors on Broadway between 57th and 58th streets belong to Gosha Rubchinsky, Loewe and Comme des Garçons Homme Plus. That makes a hard won statement. Nordstrom merchants have made an effort to play down the most popular (and lucrative) brands it carries in favor of labels with more limited distribution or the kind of cult appeal that will excite jaded New York shoppers. So there are Moscot sunglasses mixed in amongst the more ubiquitous Tom Ford and Gucci frames. While Tommy Bahama has been excused from this particular store, high volume producers Theory and Hugo Boss are still there, but pushed toward the back.
Downstairs, there is a coffee bar, a blander casual sportswear section and the centerpiece of any Nordstrom store: the shoe department. Here is where the store's more egalitarian ethos comes into focus most clearly. It takes up a large section of the block-long floor and features an assortment that ranges from Timberland to Christian Louboutin. There are lavish Gucci sneakers only a few steps away from more prosaic Nikes and Adidas and everything in between arrayed just a few steps further. Up on the second floor, high fashion designer collections share quarters with Tailored clothing. Collections like Dior Homme, Givenchy, Valentino and Calvin Klein 205W39NYC are in the spotlight with distinct mini-shops proving the store's luxury bona fides as more classic upscale sportswear takes shoppers into the suit department. Rather than the extensive banks of suit racks that you may still see in some more traditional Nordstrom locations, the emphasis here is more on fashion as well with patterned shirts and surprisingly few ties on display. In the back corner we found a full bar for those brave enough to drink and shop with a private shopping are tucked behind it.
As expected the store was operating with a full, beaming sales staff. You can't reasonably be annoyed that every associate goes out of their way to greet you when it is opening day, but , to their credit, they were neither cloying nor overbearing, just generally friendly and available if you needed them. Also seen was a full complement of Nordstrom executives looking alternately proud and anxious, along with the inevitable scouts from other retailers curious to see what the new entrant is bringing to the game. We spotted Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus Men's Fashion Director Bruce Pask snooping around the shoe department, and you can confidently assume that by now, his counterparts at Saks, Bloomingdale's and Barneys have all been through the place with a fine toothed comb.
As far as the store itself goes, its unorthodox footprint presents it with an unusual challenge, a split main floor, due to the main entrance of the office building above at 300 Columbus Circle. This separate section is accessible from both the upper and lower floors, but not from the rest of the main floor, not unlike the predicament Bergdorf Goodman found itself in when its mens store opened in 1990 while it waited five years for one small store on Fifth Avenue to run out its lease. Nordstrom, however is unlikely to recapture that space like Bergdorf's eventually did, and its side store is currently devoted to jeans, fragrance and grooming and a specialty electronics department. It's the concession they made to get to New York. It seems like everyone has to make one on some level —however real or figurative. We aren't worried that it will hold them back too much. The store was certainly busy with curious shoppers who looked like they were also eagerly buying. Nordstrom has opened the first major men's store in the city since Bergdorf's spun off its men's department into the former FAO Schwarz space 28 years ago. That tells you what a challenging market it is to enter. One thinks one the withering defeat that the much admired Louis, Boston suffered when its ambitious New York store ended its brief tenure in the late 1980s. That unfortunate rejection by locals has scared off some retailers from other cities for decades. Nordstrom has been trying to open a flagship in New York for even longer than that. While they aren't completely done yet, They have made a strong start. Thanks to suburban branches in the New York and New Jersey suburbs, they are not an unknown interloper to proud NYC shoppers, but a well liked mainstay they have been anticipating. So far, it looks like Nordstrom will not disappoint.
While the immense Mothership across Broadway is at least a year away from opening, the Nordstrom Men's store near Columbus Circle is now prominently posting 'Help Wanted' notices —right in its windows. While the notices are a bit tongue-in-cheek —we don't think that there is actually a position called 'sock svengali' at Nordstrom— their presence indicates that the retailer has set a firm opening date for what is the most significant men's store to to open in New York City since Bergdorf Goodman took advantage of an exceptionally good real estate deal to open its separate mens store in 1990. New York Magazine published a simple floor plan of the store in its current issue with a few highlighted items that don't seem earth shattering, but suggest that Nordstrom is looking to stock up on some cultish, New York-y items like Le Labo beard oil and and Mykita sunglasses which are far removed from the classic but accessible fare that made Nordstrom into a Menswear powerhouse. Little other early info has been released, but it's Nordstrom, so we can safely expect an extensive Mens tailored clothing presentation and an enormous shoe shoe department built to compete in a city now known for its enormous shoe departments. Add competitively pleasing service to that mix, and you should have the menswear staffs of Barneys, Bergdorf's, and Saks on their toes and on notice to see how this new interloper will stand up to the hometown faves. Its only a few months away now, so start the countdown.
There was one thing we were all certain of when the Nordstrom Flagship near Columbus Circle was announced: It was going to take a looooong time to build.
Initially announced as part of new wave of midtown skyscraper buildings, the upcoming store began to grow as it acquired space across the street at 3 Columbus Circle and then it was announced that adjacent buildings at 1776 Broadway and 5 Columbus Circle would be incorporated into the growing flagship including major restoration work on parts of the storefronts —which will probably make it take even longer. There's one part of the store, however, that shouldn't be hampered by complicated construction issues, and that's the Nordstrom Men's Store that is slated to open across the street. While the opening date of the main store has been pushed to 2019, new signage in the windows of the upcoming men's unit announces a Spring 2018 opening, a full year, at least, ahead of it mothership (pictured at right). Obviously, the advantage here is that the store will open in a building that has already been built, and like any good retailer, the chain wants to get this freestanding component open as soon as possible. This will make Nordstrom only the second major store in Manhattan to house its men's department in a completely separate building on another block since Bergdorf Goodman opened its Men's Store nearly 27 years ago at 58th Street and Fifth Avenue. It helps that Nordstrom has one of the most developed Men's businesses of all the higher-end specialty department store chains. It has long been said among menswear vendors that if Nordstrom is one of your clients, it is likely to be your largest, and over the past decade, the company has made great efforts to evolve its menswear offerings from traditional middle-of-the-road fare to a broader assortment including more international designers and directional labels. We will likely see more evolution in the new store as executives have already promised an extra-special presentation for New York. As the city's erstwhile men's tailored clothing champion, Barneys New York, has jettisoned all but the most luxurious tier of its men's suit offerings, there is an opportunity for Nordstrom to pick up some of that slack as the city is still home to substantial legal and financial industries where lots of men still need nice suits for work. Now, we can be fairly certain that there is less than a year to wait to see how Nordstrom will address New York's menswear market as well as to see the first glimpse of the massive upcoming flagship project.
Say goodbye to the Armani Exchange at The Shops at Columbus Circle.
Later this year, that 4,000 square foot space on the third floor will be transformed into New York City's first permanent Amazon Bookstore. While you would probably need the entirety of Time Warner Center's retail space to display a full array of what Amazon offers online, the bookstore is expected to primarily serve to showcase the company's proprietary products like Kindle and Alexa, along with a curated selection of books. It will be more the size of the B.Dalton or Waldenbooks chain stores that some us remember, than the sprawling Borders that once existed only a few steps away. Whether or not Amazon aims to eventually repopulate some of the newly available retail space in malls all over the country remains to be seen, but the upcoming branch won't be the only one coming to the area. Amazon is also officially coming to Garden State Plaza in Paramus, New Jersey. The two stores will be the seventh and eighth Amazon Bookstores that have been announced which makes the brick and mortar chain still a tiny offshoot of the online giant which currently has three stores open in San Diego, California, Seattle, Washington and Portland, Oregon. Now the question to be answered will be whether New Yorkers, who have become extremely comfortable ordering fast deliveries from Amazon wherever they might be themselves, will be interested in visiting an actual Amazon store.
While we all know that Nordstrom is building a huge flagship over at Broadway and West 57th Street, the details of what it will look like have remained a mystery —until now. Today's WWD confirms in detail much we have heard and speculated about concerning the first major flagship department store built in Manhattan since Barneys on Madison Avenue over 20 years ago. We also get some interesting new information, like the fact that the plans are so elaborate that the store is has now added a year to its projected opening date, so we will all have to hold out to 2019 to see it all come to life.
But there's more than that. “It can’t be just another nice regional store. It’s got to be better,” Nordstrom Inc.’s co-president Pete Nordstrom tells WWD. We know that the retailer is expanding its plan with more space across Broadway at 3 Columbus Circle, and now it has been confirmed that the space will, as has been widely speculated, be a freestanding men's store which, if it is ready in time, may actually open before the main flagship is finished. The other notable news is that Nordstrom will be taking space in every building along the block of Broadway between 57th and 58th Streets that are adjacent to the enormous new tower that will house the seven selling floors of the main store. That includes 1776 Broadway on the 57th Street corner, and 5 Columbus Circle on the corner of 58th. Their interiors will be integrated into that of the new building to increase space on the street level and floors above, while their exteriors will remain distinct from the new construction and, in the case of 5 Columbus Circle, dramatically restored to resemble its original Beaux Arts splendor (pictured in the gallery after the jump). That will give the store entrances through all of those buildings as well as one previously known to be integrated, 1780 Broadway. Now the flagship will have a continuous frontage that wraps all the way around the Broadway block from 58th to 57th Streets.
But what will the new building look like? presented a starkly modern exterior designed by architect James Carpenter featuring undulating glass panels that will allow maximum use of natural light inside the store as well as allowing clear views inside for passersby on the street outside (pictured in the rendering above).
The combined stores will give Nordstrom a total of 363,000 square feet of space, second in size only to the chain's main Seattle flagship store. The interior will feel familiar to seasoned Nordstrom shoppers with the retailer's signature floor plan featuring a central atrium with escalators. What it won't have is the vast expanses of space compared to stores like Bloomingdale's or Saks not to mention Macy's. Nordstrom compares the individual floors' size to those in Bergdorf Goodman, but they will feature the open plan you find in most of the chain's stores with a minimal use of hard, in-store boutiques.
This leads us to the question of exactly which designers Nordstrom will be carrying in its new showplace, a tricky question in Manhattan where luxury designers typically allow for somewhat wider distribution than they do in other cities, but still don't like to be seen in every single store. Nordstrom will have to convince many top designers who are already satisfied with their distribution between Bergdorf's, Barneys, Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdale's and likely their own flagship boutiques that they should add another point of sale in Manhattan. This work has been ongoing since the store was announced. "One of the things that will help with vendors is that we’ve got this West Side orientation that is somewhat unique,” says Pete Nordstrom, putting actual space between the new store and the concentration of big department stores further east. “We believe the West Side customer is underserved,” he explains. “We ended up picking this location for a reason — the combination of being able to build something really exciting and interesting and doing it in a neighborhood that’s underserved.” The added floor space will also help the retailer to come to agreements with top designers for representation in the store. Nordstrom already carries nearly every major luxury label in various locations throughout its network of stores. It is now more a matter of convincing them to add one more door in Manhattan where luxury department stores are proliferating downtown and Neiman Marcus, another key account for any top designer, is also entering the fray for the first time at around the same time.
The new flagship will be the most expensive store the chain has ever built, and it is expected to be its most productive as well. To that end, Nordstrom is obviously taking its time to make sure that every aspect of the store will be the best that it can be. We will find out in three years, now, how it all turns out, but few department store chains have a track record for expansion that is as successful as Nordstrom's has been over the past few decades. The results should be worth waiting for.
See more renderings of the upcoming store after the jump
For whatever reason, Gwyneth Paltrow has become one of those celebrities that "the internet" just loves to try to take down a peg or two. Is it just a result of being a successful flaxen-haired beauty who has an Oscar? Who knows, but when she started Goop, her email newsletter turned lifestyle enterprise, people really got their hackles up despite the venture's obvious success and warm reception among her actual fans. Paltrow has brought her business to another level today by opening Goop MRKT, a Holiday pop-up store at The Shops at Columbus Circle which will run through December 24th. This is her fourth Goop shop, but her first in Manhattan. We are sure that her band of critics will have their knives out, but, honestly, when The Shophound breezed by the shop earlier today, we couldn't find a great deal to criticize. The modestly sized shop neat the 58th Street entrance to the shopping center has been spruced up with a paint job, some judiciously applied moldings and a few eclectic chandeliers. While we will not exhaustively catalog the contents of the shop, we can say with confidence that if this is an expression of her personal style and favorite items, then the woman has some damned good taste.
There are three sections, with one each devoted to food, cosmetics and fragrances and fashion. The food section, which includes a cappuccino machine presumably installed to serve customers, features a combination of cookbooks, new items like Staub cast iron cookware and antique pieces like a particularly eye-catching set of green and white Bavarian chinaware in the window among other items. In the next section there are soaps, fragrances and other cosmetic items, but the main thrust of the store appears to be fashion and accessories, including an exclusive capsule collection of star-spangles separates inspired by Wonder Woman designed by Pierpaolo Piccioli and Maria Grazia Chiuri for Valentino. There are antique watches and jewelry items mixed in with brand new accessories, and the label roster includes labels like Nili Lotan, Carven and Stella McCartney to name a few. For a pop-up, it seems quite well merchandised, more like something that could sustain itself far longer than 31 days, perhaps indefinitely. Is it expensive? Sure, but so are about a thousand other stores in New York, so that's hardly much of a criticism. Really there was only one thing that we could find to criticize —that name, Goop MRKT.
What? You're too good for vowels now, Gwyneth?
Goop MRKT through December 24th at 10 Columbus Circle at 58th Street, Upper West Side
Traditionally, prestigious department stores have made an effort to keep their outlet stores a safe distance away from their full-line flagships. After all, why confuse the issue for customers? It looks like Nordstrom may be busting that paradigm as The Real Deal is reporting that executives from the off-price Nordstrom Rack are eyeing a space at 3 Columbus Circle (pictured above) for a new location along with another on West 34th Street. That would put a Rack store less than a block away from the huge, full line flagship store that is being built at the bottom of a skyscraper at 225 West 57th Street. The Rack would be in the southeast corner of the building, replacing a Bank of America branch, and literally across Broadway from an entrance to the mother ship store that is expected to open in 2019. While the flagship will be a whopping seven floors, the proposed Rack store will be also be a sizable 40,ooo square feet over three levels, giving Nordstrom something of a mega-shopping headquarters that has never been seen among Manhattan's rarefied department stores where shopping neighborhoods have been strictly stratified, and outlets are more preferably sequestered in discount centers like Woodbury Commons. Outside of independent off-price chains like Century 21 and the defunct Lehmann's, Filene's Basement and Daffy's, Manhattan had traditionally been an outlet-free zone for its luxury department stores. Lately, however, that has been changing, in part thanks to Nordstrom which first entered New York City with a Rack location just off Union Square. Now a Bloomingdale's outlet is set to open later this season at 72nd Street and Broadway, and Saks Off 5th will open in the Financial District at 1 Liberty Plaza, just on the other side of the Word Trade Center complex from an upcoming full line store in Brookfield Place. Still, if this deal comes to fruition, Nordstrom will be the first one to have its own outlet located practically across the street from one of its largest flagship stores.
Nordstrom Rack eyeing 3 Columbus Circle space (The Real Deal)