Why is Nordstrom the best?
I have a lifelong affair with shopping. I love clothes and shoes and the anticipation of fall clothes in midsummer, resort wear at New Year’s, and spring fashion when winter’s SAD threatens to swallow me up. Salespeople … not so much. No, you cannot help me: I am self-sufficient, I know what I like and it isn’t green. Looking at this doesn’t mean I want that. I don’t know you, and I don’t trust your taste. That’s why my mother is here. Just unlock those stupid fitting rooms and stop following us all around like we fit the shoplifter profile.
See? I love to shop, but not with a pushy stranger hovering nearby. Somehow, some stores, like Nordstrom, understand this. By clever training or careful recruiting or both, Nordstrom has figured out how to send sales consultants to their floor who know when to approach me, how long to stand there and when to retreat. They gauge when I actually need unsolicited advice (rarely) and when I’m confident enough in my choices to be left alone.
Let’s assume, though, that I’m there to not just look at stuff, but maybe to buy some, too. After all, if all one did was stay home and shop through Amazon Prime, one would turn flabby and pasty white, and presumably clothes would not fit as well as they would if one actually went somewhere and tried them on once in a while. Sensing this intent is the genius of the best sales consultants. Like a potential new friend, they compliment something I’m already wearing or carrying, they suggest alternatives only after I’ve indicated some slight intent to purchase by trying things on, and they bring items like those I’m already considering, not wholly different items — “How about that dress in blue?” and not “Do you also need jeans?” — offered so I’ll spend more. If I lovelovelove something and the store doesn’t have it in my size, they offer to find it elsewhere, remind me of the free shipping that will offset my lack of immediate gratification, and process the order in less than five minutes. They will do this in a clean modern store that is tastefully decorated, and quietly accompanied by music.
Nordstrom started in 1901 as a shoe store (not surprisingly) in Seattle, Washington. They had the cool Pacific Northwestthing down nearly a century before Starbucks came along. Now you can find them in upscale shopping malls throughout most of the country. They are still largely controlled by the Nordstrom family, and they consistently rank well up in the top 100 companies to work for. Their customer service is legendary. They work hard at being easy to like, just as other stores (NM, anyone?) can be so easy to dislike for their devotion to the one-percenters and all the NON-affordable luxuries they have for sale …