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Inside Canada’s First Nordstrom Store

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Last night we attended the gala opening of Canada’s first Nordstrom location, and we’ve included some photos in this article. The store is stunning. The Calgary store is only the second in the chain to feature the retailers’s new store design, which other Canadian Nordstrom locations will follow. The Chinook Centre store opens to the public at 9:30 am tomorrow (Friday, September 19). The following is a description of our first impression of Chinook Centre’s Nordstrom, as well as various photos from the gala. 

Overall, the interiors of Calgary’s Nordstrom are brighter and more contemporary than most of its American locations. Smooth white ceilings characterize much of the store, as opposed to the tiled ceilings and tract lighting common in most American Nordstrom locations. Calgary is the retailer’s second location to adopt such contemporary interiors, following the recent opening of a Nordstrom location in suburban Houston, Texas. 

The store’s flooring is primarily tile, as opposed to carpeting which covers much of Nordstrom’s American store locations. Tiled floors allow flexibility to shrink or expand each department with carpeting according to demand. Carpet over the tile can be moved and is held with adhesive.

Footwear features prominently on the store’s ground floor. Prices vary from the affordable to well in excess of $1,000 per pair. 

The women’s handbags department features a wide variety of designers. Along the wall are shops for Burberry, Valentino, and Chloé. Each shop has its own register. 

The store’s top-priced womenswear department, Collectors, features designers such as Missoni, Akris Punto, Michael Kors, and St John Knits. As is the case with most departments, it is open and characterized only by carpeting. 

The store features ample dressing rooms in various departments. Personal shoppers are on hand to assist customers. 

Menswear ranges from the trendy to the professionally conservative. Prices vary. We spied a beautiful Salvatore Ferragamo jacket but decided against the $2,150 purchase price. 

The store features artwork from various Canadian artists, especially around dressing rooms and other common areas. 

The store’s cosmetics department features an open-sell concept. Experts are on hand and, interestingly, are available to assist shoppers for the entire department, not just from one brand. 

The store is far more open than Nordstrom’s US locations. It’s possible to see clear across the store from various departments. 

Nordstrom was founded in 1901 as a shoe store and naturally, its footwear selection is exceptional. We couldn’t resist buying this pair of patent leather dress shoes. They’re from Nordstrom label, Calibrate, and were reasonably priced at at $120. 

The store features an upscale full-service restaurant on its second floor, called Bazille. It features bistro cuisine and a full bar. Fresh salads, speciality entrées, signature cocktails, a wine list and house-made desserts are featured. Calgary is Bazille’s fourth location, and here’s its American menu:  [American Bazille Menu, PDF]

The gala saw over 1,800 people attend, and raising over $180,000 for  the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation, as well as the Calgary United Way. Tickets went on sale last summer for $100 each and sold out in exceptional time. The entire cost of the gala was underwritten by Nordstrom, meaning that all proceeds from ticket sales went to these charities. 

Anchoring the north end of Chinook Centre, Calgary’s Nordstrom spans two floors and measures about 140,000 square feet. It replaces part of the mall’s former 172,000 square foot Sears store. 

Nordstrom’s second Canadian location, measuring 157,000 square feet, opens March 6, 2015 at Ottawa’s Rideau Centre. Its 230,000 square foot Vancouver (Pacific Centre) store opens September 18, 2015 and in the fall of 2016, two Toronto stores (Toronto Eaton Centre – 213,000 square feet, Yorkdale Shopping Centre – 191,000 square feet) will open, followed by a third Toronto store (Sherway Gardens – 138,000 square feet) in the spring of 2017. 

Next week we’ll provide a more in-depth description of each Nordstrom store department, following its Friday grand opening. 

Article Author

Craig Patterson
Craig Patterson
Now located in Toronto, Craig is a retail analyst and consultant at the Retail Council of Canada. He's also the Director of Applied Research at the University of Alberta School of Retailing in Edmonton. He has studied the Canadian retail landscape for the past 25 years and he holds Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Laws Degrees. He is also President & CEO of Vancouver-based Retail Insider Media Ltd.

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7 COMMENTS

  1. I do agree with Nic. With what one might interpret as an influx of luxury stores coming into Canada I am under the strong impression that the average income customer has been left out in the cold. The slowly disappearing middle class buyer is entitled to more than the cookie cutter retail industry that is being offered.

  2. If I can make an addendum to that comment below. I guess I’m firmly in the core demographic that Nordstrom targets, two gay men, $200,000 annual income combined, urban, etc. But we have other spending priorities than upscale clothing. I don’t think either of us has purchased anything at a mainline Nordstrom store (we live less than a mile from the Seattle headquarters) but we do shop at the Rack. I believe Canada will be getting Rack stores, and that is your middle class shopping experience eight there. All in all, i don’t mind more self service and paying for alterations if the prices of goods are more reasonable.

  3. I live In st Paul,MN and Montréal ( Québec – long story)
    Nordstroms has become my favorite store. They have designers for all budgets ,and their customer service is impeccable. Example : i dont Like going to holt renfrew because i find they " have an attitude" un Like Ogilvys down the street,which holts now owns!
    With all thèse stores coming In ,its going to be the best customer service That Will win their clients over.
    Now if we Could be Like the States- no tax on cloches and shoes!!!!

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