Nordstrom and smart-home gym company Tonal on Monday announced a partnership that will put a 50-square foot demo concept into the women's active department of 40 Nordstrom stores in 20 states, starting this month.
That includes 12 states where Tonal doesn't yet have a physical store, according to a press release.
The tie-up is part of the department store's effort to meet the current demand in active and leisure. In December, Nordstrom launched an active microsite, which features workout guidance as well as merchandise.
Nordstrom was historically less of a "department store" than most, having little to offer beyond apparel and footwear, a reflection of its origins as a Seattle shoe store.
Reacting to the demand for active apparel and gear by partnering with Tonal, in a way, creates the kind of department not usually found at Nordstrom, with equipment and tech alongside apparel. The spaces also allow for trial workouts, per the release.
In some ways it's a departure for Nordstrom. With apparel sales growth ebbing, especially in the more formal occasion and work categories that have been in focus at Nordstrom, some analysts were already worried about its prospects. During the pandemic, which has only exacerbated such trends, the retailer has struggled to meet demand in areas outside of its wheelhouse, including home.
In other ways, the Tonal deal is in keeping with Nordstrom's open-minded approach to taking on new partners. The retailer has long invested in and partnered with DTC brands and other companies outside the usual department store channels.
While the pandemic has also interfered with a growth plan centered on a fusion of its physical and digital, and of full-line and off-price operations, the effort has started to pay off, with the retailer among those recognized as well-connected across channels. Executives recently doubled down on that strategy.