The shoe fits in Columbia Nordstrom: Planned store a holiday gift for fancy dressers and mall in Howard County.


IT MAKES SENSE that Nordstrom, the cosmopolitan department store known for its extensive shoe and high-end apparel departments, would choose Columbia.

Nordstrom is synonomous with high fashion, and Columbia, midway between Baltimore and Washington, considers itself a trendy new town.

Nordstrom targets upper-income shoppers, and Columbia and other Howard County communities have lots of well-to-do families that can afford the goods.

Nordstrom is in the midst of an expansion spurt, and Columbia and Howard County continue to grow at a brisk pace.

The only question: Why did it take so long for this marriage of convenience to happen?

Columbia has long had the demographics that upscale retailers covet. Yet high-end stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus and Bloomingdale's remained elusive.

But the need will be filled now that Seattle-based Nordstrom has decided to locate in the Mall in Columbia. The 25-year-old center gains instant prestige and is positioned to attract more anchors. The positive reaction from other mall stores reflected Nordstrom's drawing power. The center will be able to satisfy sophisticated fashion palettes while addressing the needs of shoppers with J. C. Penney, Sears and Hecht's. Not to be forgotten are 350 full- and part-time jobs the new store will bring.

Nordstrom, meanwhile, gains some of the Baltimore-Washington area's top income demographics. The chain is opening stores in or near major cities, including Denver, Philadelphia, Dallas and Detroit.

It has expressed concern in the past that this region might not have a large enough population base to support a third store, on top of the stores it has opened the past several years in Towson Town Center and the Annapolis Mall. But the retailer will be able to draw from Howard's 224,000 residents and from shoppers making short trips from neighboring Baltimore and Montgomery counties.

The Rouse Co. will add at least 170,000 square feet of space to accomodate its newest tenant and more stores and parking. Indeed, for the mall, the business community, chic dressers and the work force, Christmas just became a lot more merry.

Pub Date: 12/18/96

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