Nordstrom: new store to cater to all tastes


What does the average person think of when they hear the name of Nordstrom department stores?

Often they think "expensive" said John Whitacre, vice-president and manager of Nordstrom in Tysons Corner, Va.

"People have a real misperception about our stores," Whitacre said. "Our customer base is very broad. Our customers range from the secretary who drives the Honda to work to the business executive."

Baltimore residents will have the opportunity to sample Nordtrom when it opens in the newly designed Towson Town Center Mall in the spring of 1992. Construction already has begun.

Whitacre is to meet with members of the Towson Development Corp. on Sept. 26 to discuss the store, which will be new to the Baltimore area. The closest Nordstrom is Whitacre's in Tysons Corner.

Leslie Graef, executive director of the development corporation, said his organization is looking forward to the opening of the store.

"Towson has been working for a number of years to expand its retail business," Graef said. "We've been working to foster the rebirth of the downtown core area. We feel blessed they're (Nordstrom) next to each other."

The downtown area of Towson is undergoing a rebirth with the construction of Towson Commons, a commercial and office development being built in a cleared site along the west side of York Road between Chesapeake and Pennsylvania avenues. It is to be completed by October 1991.

Looking forward to meeting with the development corporation, which is a non-profit community improvement organization, Whitacre said he hopes to share the store's history with the corporation members.

Whitacre also will show what type of store is to be built in Towson as well as describe the store's retail philosophy.

The Towson store is to be very similar in style and size to the Tysons Corner store and the Pentagon City store in Alexandria, Va., Whitacre said. The Towson store will have four floors -- one more than the Tysons Corner and Pentagon City stores.

Whitacre said an estimated cost for construction of the new Nordstrom was unavailable.

The new Nordstrom will have 230,000 square feet to house its merchandise. The same quality and style of clothing found in Nordstrom's other locations also will be available in Towson, Whitacre said.

"Being in a new market we don't want to assume very much about our customers," Whitacre said. "We really don't foresee any need to change. As time goes by it's possible we could change but I'm sure it would be very minor."

Nordstrom is a Seattle-based family-run business now in its third generation, Whitacre said.

"They've been very consistent since 1901," Whitacre said. "They haven't really ever changed. They've always believed in quality merchandise and service."

When Nordstrom began in Seattle, it was known as Nordstrom Best and strictly sold shoes. It was not until the 1960s that Nordstrom began selling other retail items. Quality shoes, however, remain the store's trademark, Whitacre said.

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