Nordstrom Inc. intends to hire 400 area employees for its new fashion specialty retailer store at St. Johns Town Center and teach them to work within the chain’s legendary culture of making the customer feel at home.
Jobs for the sales and support positions should be posted by June 30 and work should start in September to prepare for the Oct. 10 opening.
Nordstrom also plans to relocate 30 department managers from other Nordstroms to the Jacksonville store so they can transfer the company’s culture, says Brooke White, vice president of corporate affairs with the Seattle-based chain.
White along with fashion PR specialists Kelly Skahan and Anya Pavlovic met with reporters in separate interviews Wednesday, although not inside the store under construction.
The three provided some useful insights for Jacksonville customers.
• Checkout. Nordstrom salespeople will use handheld devices to help customers check out from locations other than a checkout counter, although there will be some of those. For example, a customer could sit in the dressing room and check out there if he or she so desires.
• Reluctant shoppers. If your shopping partner doesn’t want to share the thrill of the experience with you, he or she can park in the men’s shoes department, where there will be TV monitors broadcasting sports and other events, along with plenty of seating. He or she also could bring in coffee, drinks or, as White quips, “you could bring a picnic.” No alcohol, however.
• Alcohol. The Bazille Café and bar on the second floor will feature a full menu and a full bar. The purpose is to keep customers in the store because typically, if a shopper leaves a store for lunch or dinner, he or she won’t return. Being on the second floor means they have to traverse through merchandise on the way out, another opportunity to shop. Also, diners who only want to try Bazille for a meal might end up checking out the merchandise.
• Stylists. Nordstrom will offer advisory personal and beauty stylist services for free, meaning customers can make appointments to meet with a stylist who can help choose clothing and makeup. Nordstrom also will offer lingerie-fit stylists as well as a prosthesis program for women who have had breast surgery. Nordstrom will help fill out the insurance paperwork.
• Employees. Salespeople will be paid by commission or at an hourly rate, whichever is greater. The wages are computed every two weeks. Commissions are an average 6.75 percent of the associate’s sales. White said the average Nordstrom salesperson makes $42,000 a year. Employees also receive a 20 percent discount on merchandise. High-performers can earn a 33 percent
• Merchandise. Nordstrom’s buyers are reviewing the merchandise at stores in similar climates and areas to determine the initial mix for Jacksonville. One item to expect: women’s sweaters for summer, considering the Florida heat leads to cold air conditioning in restaurants, shops, offices and movie theaters. White says the merchandise assortment ranges from affordable to
designer wear. The Jacksonville assortment will be adjusted to meet customers’ needs and desires.
• Target customers. Women ages 18-54 are the target customers, although Nordstrom carries a full line of clothing, shoes and accessories for all ages.
• Trends. Nordstrom expects to be on-trend all the time. In years past, fashion trends often started in metropolitan cities on the coasts — think New York and Los Angeles — and worked their way across the country. No longer. With social media keeping customers current, shoppers want the latest fashions immediately.
• Nordstrom Rack. The full-line Nordstrom goes through just two discount cycles before moving its merchandise to its off-price stores, Nordstrom Rack. Nordstrom Rack stores also receive merchandise bought especially for them. Some employees from Nordstrom Rack, whose Jacksonville store opened Nov. 7 in The Markets at Town Center next to the St. Johns Town Center, might be moved to the full-line Nordstrom. Both stores offer online shopping as well.
• Opening day. Nordstrom will open at 10 a.m. Before then, starting at 8 a.m., it will offer beauty makeovers in the plaza in front of the store. Other events leading to the opening include a grand-opening gala Oct. 8
to benefit the Cathedral Arts Project, the Junior League of Jacksonville and Wolfson Children’s Hospital.
• It’s not a department store. White and Skahan emphasize Nordstrom is not a department store because it does not carry hard goods, such as furniture, appliances or home goods. It is a fashion specialty retailer. While it doesn’t offer bridal or baby gift registries because it does not offer typical home goods or baby gear, it does offer a “wish list” service that operates similarly.
Nordstrom Inc. was founded in 1901 as a small Seattle shoe store. It operates in 36 states with 117 full-line stores, 151 Nordstrom Rack locations and on Nordstrom.com and NordstromRack.com. It also has two Jeffrey boutiques, one clearance store and ships to 98 countries.