Nordstrom is opening a new store in California next month that’s significantly smaller than what the department store chain usually builds and — in a twist — won't be stocking clothing or any inventory at all.
Instead, the Seattle-based company said Monday the store will offer shoppers personal stylists to help pick out clothing and accessories, dressing rooms to try them on, online ordering, and services, such as alterations, manicures, wine and beer and hand-delivery of items to customers' cars.
The effort is part of a trend by traditional department stores and malls as they cut costs, shutter stores and try to stay relevant and competitive as their customers increasingly go online to buy things.
"As the retail landscape continues to transform at an unprecedented pace," Shea Jensen, Nordstrom's senior vice president of customer experience, said, "the one thing we know that remains constant is that customers continue to value great service, speed and convenience."
JCPenney has said it will close 138 locations, roughly 14% of its stores. Macy's said earlier this year that it would shutter 68 of its locations. Sears, in a series of announcements, has announced 330 store closings.
So far, the new Nordstrom concept, dubbed Nordstrom Local, is limited to one store in the Los Angeles area.
But, the company is suggesting that other stores could be in the works.
"We'll follow the pace of our customers," the company said in response to an e-mail from the Free Press asking whether any stores like this were slated for Michigan. "We'll move as fast or slow as they want us to."
The Wall Street Journal reported on the new concept this weekend, in advance of the company's announcement.
In many ways, the new Nordstrom concept follows a trend in the retail industry to focus on offering more online options and to turn shopping into a luxury service experience, especially for those who feel it is a chore.
Earlier this year, sportswear brand Under Armour opened a shop in downtown Detroit that showcases merchandise that customers can see, touch, try on and buy to take with them — or purchase online in the store right now or later at home.
Bonobos, a men's fashion brand, also opened a store in downtown Detroit this year that, like Nordstrom Local, is set up specifically for online sales and high-end service. At Bonobos, shopper tries on clothing and orders it online.
Bonobos, which was founded a decade ago in New York, was acquired by Walmart this summer for $310 million, in a move by the Arkansas-based retail juggernaut to better compete with Amazon.com.
Nordstrom's new Local store opens on Oct. 3 in West Hollywood, Calif. It will have a 3,000 square-foot footprint, which is a fraction of the average 140,000 square-foot size of its 121 department stores.
Moreover, the company said the new store will feature what it calls a styling suite and eight dressing rooms, surrounding a central meeting space where customers can sit, drink a glass of wine, beer or expresso and get fashion advice from stylists.
And, the store will offer shoppers a digital app that will allow them to chat, get clothing recommendations, and place orders through Nordstrom.com.
Nordstrom — which was founded in 1901 as a shoe store in Seattle — now has 356 stores, including its low-price Rack brand, in 40 states.
In June, the Nordstrom family said it is seeking a way to acquire the department-store chain that bears its name and would turn the publicly-traded company into a private venture.
The Nordstrom chain has been expanding. It is opening a department store at the end of this week in Toronto.
But, it has not been immune to department store closures, either.
"We know there are more and more demands on a customer's time and we wanted to offer our best services in a convenient location to meet their shopping needs," Jensen said. "Finding new ways to engage with customers on their terms is more important to us now than ever."
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