Nordstrom's Local concept made its Big Apple debut on Thursday with the opening of a roughly 1,800 square foot location on the Upper East Side, on 3rd Avenue between 73rd and 74th Streets. A second New York City Local will open in the West Village on Sept. 27th, according to a company press release.
Customers are privy to services like online order pick up and returns; alterations; shoe, handbag and small leather goods repair; styling services; and gift wrapping. Both Locals will take donations of "gently-used fashion" for Housing Works and serve as meeting spots "for networking and family driven events." The Upper East Side store also offers stroller cleanings through Tot Squad.
The new merchandise-free concept stores were first tested in Los Angeles two years ago, and there are now three in that metro area. Nordstrom senior vice president of customer experience Shea Jensen said the company has learned a lot since then, including that customers who visit one spend 2.5 times more and account for 30% of buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS) orders.
This opening represents the intersection of two bets Nordstrom is making these days: the expansion of its Local concept and its push into New York City.
"Whether it is our Nordstrom Local locations on the Upper East Side and in the West Village, our new Flagship opening in October, or our Nordstrom Rack locations across the city, we want to bring the added convenience of services such as online order pick-up, fast and easy returns, alterations, styling and more as close to customers as possible," Nordstrom's president of stores Jamie Nordstrom said in a statement.
Nordstrom, which never over-expanded the way Macy's and other department store chains have done, has had an easier time in recent years rationalizing its footprint, and that has even included some expansion. New York appears to be its latest obsession. Last year, the retailer opened its first full-line store (and only just-men's location) in the city, and a flagship is due to open in October near Columbus Circle.
While Nordstrom insists that the Local hubs are delivering good results, the concept remains experimental. But it also demonstrates the retailer's willingness to innovate, several analysts have said. "You need only look at something like Nordstrom's Local as an example of one of the few remaining viable department store retailers understanding what the next chapter looks like," retail analyst and consultant Sanford Stein, author of "Retail Schmetail," told Retail Dive in an interview earlier this year.
It's an uphill battle. Apparel retailers in general are struggling in an era of changing consumer tastes, habits and influences. Shoppers no longer flock to Nordstrom, in particular, for special occasion and other pricier apparel, which led UBS analysts in July to deem the department store a "no-growth retailer," citing trends for less expensive and more casual attire.