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.
The operating rules of enormous department store chains have changed a lot in the past decade. Once relegated to the suburbs, outlet and clearance divisions have inched ever closer to major full-line shopping neighborhoods, with the latest example being a great big Nordstrom Rack store set to open in about a month at 855 Sixth Avenue at 31st Street, just a few blocks south of Macy's Herald Square and the sprawling collection of mall-stores that spill across the stretch of 34th street west of Fifth Avenue.
A glance at the windows pictured above tells us that the store will open its doors in about a month on October 26th, and if it looks like it will be pretty big with the entirety of the first two floors of the new building, consider that with the lower level as well, the store will total about 47,000 square feet over three floors. That makes it one of the larger Rack stores around, especially in a location like Manhattan where space is always at a premium.
It has been decades since a major out of town retailer has attempted to crack Manhattan's powerhouse ranks of home-grown retail palaces, but as once sterling names like Gimbel's, Bonwit Teller, B.Altman and Abraham & Straus have fallen over the years, there's a little more room for more competition now. JCPenney of Plano TX, has only managed to get in with an innocuous subterranean location taking up a mere fraction of the building that once housed the entirety of the mighty Gimbel's, but the pride and joy of Dallas, Neiman Marcus, is on its way with an unconventional store in a yet to be completed Hudson Yards tower. The big event on deck, however is Nordstrom's Columbus Circle flagship slated for 2019. The chain has managed to slyly whet New Yorkers' appetites first by taking on the suburbs surrounding the tri-state area where it is now a mainstay. Next, it made Manhattan safe for Department Stores' outlet divisions by opening a Rack unit where the Union Square Virgin Megastore once stood, paving the way for a Saks Off 5th appearing on tony East 57th Street, a once unthinkable location for such an establishment, only seven blocks north of its lavish full-price namesake. Before the splashy Nordstrom flagship debuts, however, its 3-level Men's Store will serve as an extended preview when it opens across Broadway this coming Spring. By the time the Mother ship opens its doors, Manhattanites should be chomping at the bit as if it is one of our own illustrious chains. As for the upcoming Rack, its sheer size suggests that it will be just like the Rack stores we have come to know, but bigger, which outlet shoppers know, is almost always better. By now we all know that most of what these stores carry is either overstock or merchandise made expressly for selling in "outlet" venues. That doesn't mean that they aren't worth your shopping dollars, and Nordstrom Rack at least makes the effort to specially tag items that have indeed come from their full-line stores. It's never a bad idea to catch the opening weeks of such a store either, as off-price chains have been known to pepper their opening offerings with particularly enticingly priced merchandise to ingratiate themselves with new customers. If you happen to have a reason to make your way through the Herald and Greely Square neighborhoods in about a month, you might find yourself making a habit of it.
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.
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
You would think that 285,000 square feet over seven floors in a brand new, specially built skyscraper would be enough room for Nordstrom to launch it's long awaited Manhattan flagship, but the folks at the home office in Seattle are apparently feeling a little bit less confident about having enough space, now, so they have expanded —across the street.
WWD tells us that Nordstrom has taken a three level 43,000 square foot space at 3 Columbus Circle (pictured above) just across Broadway from the upcoming Nordstrom Tower for a second store. Rumors about the chain's interest in the space popped up about three months ago, but speculation was that it was to maximize the brand's presence with a flagship Nordstrom Rack store. If it seemed a bit unlikely that they would place an outlet unit so close to what is expected to be one of its crown jewel flagships, that's because it was. In fact the space will be an extension of the flagship as the home for certain departments relocated to make more room in the main store. While those departments have not yet been identified, speculation centers around shoes or menswear. While Nordstrom is known for its massive shoe departments, it is hard to imagine that it would move them across the street into a different building, making it difficult for sales staff to easily cross-sell footwear to complete apparel purchases. A men's department, however, can be and has been easily encapsulated in a separate, multi-level building as shown by Bergdorf Goodman's 25-year-old Men's store across Fifth Avenue from its original store and the freestanding men's store Saks Fifth Avenue is planning in the Financial District to complement the branch opening at Brookfield Place later this year. Nordstrom is also known for having one of the strongest men's businesses in the industry which could be maximized in New York City with its own storefront.
Or perhaps they haven't even decided yet. The additional space had included a Bank of America branch which the building's owner bought out to make the deal, and, since it is part of a building that is already built, unlike the very much under construction flagship store, Nordstrom has plenty of time to decide what to do with the space as well as create the store inside. Look for an announcement confirming the new space's use. . . eventually.
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)
With a major Midtown flagship on the way in a few years and Rack stores popping up in a few boroughs, WWD tells us today that Nordstrom is still looking for a spot for a second full line store in New York City. And where are they looking?
Big surprise, right?
Speculation centers around several Lower Manhattan sites ranging from spaces on Wall Street to the Howard Hughes Corporation's complete renovation of Pier 17. None of the potential spaces are perfect slam dunks. They will all take some serious negotiations, and Nordstrom, as we have seen from the previous rounds of rumors regarding the store that will eventually open around the corner of Broadway and 57th Street, will kick a lot of tires before they make a final decision. They are extremely picky about location (as they should be) and, in most cases, insist on building their stores from the ground up which will be extremely difficult if not impossible in the landmark-laden financial District. The World Trade Center retail spaces are said to be too small to accommodate the 230 square foot flagship sized store that the Seattle-based chain is looking to construct, even though space might have freed up now that the much rumored talks to sign luxury stores from Tiffany, Tom Ford and Giorgio Armani boutiques are now rumored to have stalled due to their potential proximity to both Century 21 and the upcoming Saks Off-Fifth. Pier 17 would be a dramatic spot that would allow the chain's preferred construction requirements, but it is the site of a previous retail project that was a colossal failure. Saks has taken the largest space in Brookfield Place, and that store is only going to be 85,000 square feet, a little more than a third of the size of the presumed Nordstrom store. That leaves other buildings around the area that may or may not fit Nordstrom's bill. We don't expect the chain to settle on a space anytime soon, but keep in mind that when Nordstrom wants to put a store somewhere, they eventually find a way to do it, so add another great big department store to the list of openings before the end of this decade. That makes one new Barneys, one Neiman Marcus, one new Saks Fifth Avenue and now, two Nordstroms coming to Manhattan.
Five big stores.
Let's just hope people keep spending.
We have known where Manhattan's first full-line Nordstrom store will be for a while, but we haven't known exactly what it will look like —until today. New York YIMBY has the latest details on the building designed by Adrian Smith and Gordon Gill (pictured above) and has acquired new drawings of what Extell Development has dubbed the Nordstrom Tower at 225 West 57th Street. The new information puts the building at 1,775 feet upon its projected completion in 2008, making it the world's tallest residential tower and almost the city's tallest building just one foot shorter than One World Trade Center. The building will even top the roofline of Chicago's famous Willis Tower which was once the biggest building in the world.
The relatively sudden skyscraper war is distressing to many New Yorkers who see midtown's rapid proliferation of ultra-tall skyscrapers and other architectural changes happening at the expense of preservation and sunlight, but for Nordstrom it could work our quite well. It can't be a bad thing to have a captive customer base of wealthy homeowners right upstairs —assuming that the condos, which are bound to be staggeringly expensive, will actually have full-time residents —but that's a whole other discussion.
Don't be fooled by those Nordstrom banners that have appeared outside the old Tommy Hilfiger store on West Broadway. We still have a few more years to wait for a proper, permanent Nordstrom store. They are only there for the Pop-up shop being staged to launch Sarah Jessica Parker's SJP shoe collection this weekend. Tomorrow through Sunday will be the only opportunity to buy the collection in person in New York City as it will be otherwise available only at selected Nordstrom stores and Nordstrom.com. We had mistakenly thought that the chain would re-purpose its former Treasure & Bond space for the event a few steps downtown, but the former Hilfiger space, yet another store in SoHo that can't seem to find a permanent resident, will serve as a more polished, higher profile venue for the fleeting shop that pretty much everyone is expecting to be mobbed for the duration. We got a bit of a peek inside (through the window) to see the shop pretty much set up and ready for business. It appears that there will be a few apparel and accessory options available to complement the SJP shoes, if that rack of trench coats is any indication. Our friends at Racked have ascertained that Parker herself will be making her appearances at the store on Friday at 10am, Saturday at 3pm, and Sunday at 11am which is essential information if you either want to make sure you get a chance to see the Actress/Designer/Perfumer herself, or are a terribly blasé New Yorker who couln't care less about seeing celebrities and wants to avoid the most frenzied shopping times.
Have a look at the gallery below for a few more views including store hours and a peek inside.
SJP by Sarah Jessica Parker Pop-Up Store by Nordstrom runs from February 28 through March 2 at 372 West Broadway at Broome Street, SoHo
Sarah Jessica Parker's Shoe Line SJP Gets A 3-Day Pop-Up