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First things first. The charity launch for the Alberta Children’s Hospital and Calgary’s United Way at Nordstrom Chinook Centre brought out the who’s who of Calgary society. The store was rocking with high heeled locals that one woman described as “utterly amazing” as she was able to meet her entire social circle. The food was delicious and kept coming all night. The wine and beer bar was the place to hang out with friends, and the photo booth allowed friends to camp it up.

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Second, Nordstrom pulled off a beautiful store. Their skill at creating a curated collection was in full force. The pairings of looks, outfits, and “must-have” styles was fully noted. A guest pointed out that she wanted the exact looks that were on the models and mannequins.

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The price points ranged from $18 for a t-shirt in the juniors section to $2,500 for a Herve Leger or Roberto Cavalli dress. Often the brands are inter mixed as part of creating that specific must-have look.

Third, the overall design of the store and layout matched the aesthetic. Beautiful local Canadian and international art work and exceptional rugs complemented the clothing to create the whole package.

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Another noticeable design feature is the mixture of heights, textures, and materiality that created depth and multiple eye levels to draw consumers through the store—an exceptional attention to detail that is a Nordstrom trademark.

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For all the wonderful details and things they got right there were stumbles:

  • There are missing brands. A woman remarked that she came specifically for certain make up brands and footwear but was a bit disappointed they weren’t available. (She was a very loyal Nordstrom shopper who will now shop at the Calgary store but will continue to shop for more unique brands in the USA.)
  • That same shopper was dismayed to find out her Nordstrom card would not work in Canada. One would have thought that this detail may have been ironed out before opening.
  • As stated, there were missing brands—and perhaps an over representation of some brands such as Burberry, Michael Kors, and Kate Spade. Chinook Centre carries many of the same brands in full line stores such as Tory Burch, Kiehl’s, Eileen Fisher, Michael Kors.
  • The service level was en point. The staff was in full force showcasing the Nordstrom charm. However, check-out required five attempts. Only the managers were sent to the USA for training, but the staff did receive an intensive three week in-store training.
  • Finally, the retailers at the mall entrance that leads to Nordstrom are not complementary. They include Fairweather, International Clothiers, and Watch It. OUCH!

In light of these bumps, shoppers noted that the store is a welcome addition to the Calgary retail scene and sure to be a success.

This store had just enough Calgary and Canadian charm. All in all, if not a home run then a triple. Watch out Holt Renfrew, HBC—and eventually Saks!

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