Amid the bad news coming from the retail sector — store closures, layoffs, slumping revenues — there is a company opening an enormous new department store in Manhattan on Thursday: Nordstrom.
The Columbus Circle store, at 57th and Broadway, is 320,000 square feet and seven stories high. There will be plenty of room for clothes and shoes, but it seems a big part of the business model is about services.
“No matter what you need, just ask. We’re looking forward to serving you,” reads the Nordstrom website.
There’s a long list of services the flagship store will offer: you can get your leather jacket repaired, or your pants hemmed in an hour. You can meet with a personal stylist or a beauty adviser, for free.
“They also have a number of high-end restaurants and eateries. They have the ability for customers to order food while they’re shopping and even, I believe, drinks on certain floors with liquor licenses,” said Sonia Lapinsky, managing director at Alix Partners.
“Nordstrom is providing a reason for the customer to walk in the door.”
The theory, said Lapinsky, is if Nordstrom can get people in the door, those people might stick around and buy some of the stuff that’s hanging on the racks.
Department stores have been struggling. But according to Sharmila Chatterjee, who teaches marketing at MIT Sloan, there is still a place for them if they can give customers what they’re looking for — which, in many cases, is an experience.
“A place with the right kind of offerings and service and ambience is something that customers will value,” Chatterjee said.
One of the other services Nordstrom is offering might also appeal to time-pressed New Yorkers: 24/7 pickup for online orders.