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Nordstrom, Inc. is one of the nation's leading fashion specialty retailers, with 159 stores located in 28 states. Founded in 1901 as a shoe store in Seattle, today Nordstrom operates 105 full-line stores, 50 Nordstrom Racks, two Jeffrey boutiques and two clearance stores. Nordstrom also serves customers through its online presence at and through its catalogs. Nordstrom, Inc. is publicly traded on the NYSE under the symbol JWN.

Nordstrom LogoIn 1887, a 16-year-old boy left his home country of Sweden for the promise of New York City. He arrived with only five dollars in his pocket, unable to speak a word of English. His name? John W. Nordstrom.

The first years in the land of opportunity were hard. To make ends meet, young John labored in mines and logging camps as he crossed the United States to California and Washington. Then one morning in 1897, he picked up a newspaper and read the front-page headline "Gold Found in the Klondike in Alaska." The very next day, he made plans to head north.

Things were no easier in the Klondike. The labor was hard, the terrain difficult, and there was an over-supply of eager workers. But within two years, John had earned $13,000 in a gold mine stake and returned to Seattle.

Back in the Northwest, John was eager to invest his money. He had befriended a man while in Alaska, Carl Wallin, who owned a shoe repair shop in downtown Seattle. It wasn't long before the two decided to go into partnership and open a shoe store together.

In 1901, the two opened their first shoe store, Wallin & Nordstrom, in downtown Seattle. This was the start of what would become the retail legend of Nordstrom, Inc.

From the beginning, John's business philosophy was based on exceptional service, selection, quality and value. The company built a devoted customer base; and in 1923, the partners added their second store.

In 1928, John Nordstrom retired and sold his share of the company to his sons, Everett and Elmer. Carl Wallin retired a year later and also sold his share of the company to the Nordstrom sons. A third son, Lloyd, joined the team in 1933.

A Growing Reputation

The company soon grew to become the largest independent shoe chain in the United States. By 1960, Nordstrom had eight stores in Washington and Oregon, and the downtown Seattle store became the largest shoe store in the country.

By the early 1960's, the company was looking for new ways to spread its wings. Venturing into the clothing market, Nordstrom purchased Best Apparel, a Seattle-based clothing store, in 1963.

Three years later, Nordstrom purchased a Portland, Oregon fashion retail store and merged it with their existing Portland shoe store. For the first time, customers were greeted with a selection of both shoes and fine apparel under a new store name: Nordstrom Best.Men's clothing and children's wear were added in 1966, expanding the store to meet the wardrobe needs of the entire family. Business prospered and within two years, two new stores opened in Washington.

In 1968, the three brothers decided to retire and hand the company over to the third Nordstrom generation. The company was now led by Everett's son Bruce, Elmer's sons James and John, Lloyd's son-in-law Jack McMillan and family friend Bob Bender.

The company went public in 1971. Just two years later, Nordstrom sales passed the $100 million mark and the company was recognized as the largest-volume West Coast fashion specialty store. This same year, the name was formally changed to Nordstrom, Inc.

By 1975, the company had expanded into Alaska, and the first Nordstrom Rack was opened in Seattle as a clearance center for full-line store merchandise. Three years later, the company moved into the competitive California market; and by 1988, Nordstrom had made the big move to the East Coast with the opening of a beautiful new store in Virginia.

Nordstrom Today   

While Nordstrom was growing nationally, it focused on catering to customers' needs, individually. Instead of categorizing departments by merchandise, Nordstrom created fashion departments that fit individuals' lifestyles.

Today, Nordstrom has grown from one downtown Seattle shoe store into a nationwide fashion specialty chain with renowned services, generous size ranges and a selection of the finest apparel, shoes and accessories for the entire family.

The company's philosophy has remained unchanged for more than 100 years since its establishment by John W. Nordstrom in 1901: offer the customer the best possible service, selection, quality and value.

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