Retail mogul Bruce Nordstrom dies, aged 90


Bruce Nordstrom, the former leader who transformed Nordstrom into one of the biggest department stores in the United States, passed away at the age of 90. He died on Saturday at his home.

Bruce Nordstrom was part of the third generation of his family to run the business. He took control in 1968. His sons, who now manage the company, described their father as a “legendary business leader” in a statement confirming his death.

Nordstrom’s journey began when Bruce’s grandfather co-founded the company in 1901. It started as a small shoe shop in Seattle. By October 2023, Nordstrom had grown into a large retail chain with 360 stores across the United States.

Bruce Nordstrom played a significant role in the company’s expansion. He led the company for many years before retiring as an executive in 1995. He also stepped down from Nordstrom’s board of directors in 2006. During his tenure, he made important decisions that fueled the company’s growth. One of his major moves was taking the company public in 1971. This means that Nordstrom started selling shares to the public, which helped raise money for further expansion. He also launched Nordstrom Rack, a lower-priced version of the department store, making Nordstrom’s products more accessible to a broader range of customers.

In a statement, his sons, Erik Nordstrom, the CEO of Nordstrom, and Pete Nordstrom, the company’s president, praised their father. They said, “Our dad leaves a powerful legacy as a legendary business leader, a generous community citizen, and a loyal friend.”

Bruce Nordstrom is survived by his wife, Jeannie, his sister Anne Gittinger, and seven grandchildren. He had three sons, but his third son, Blake Nordstrom, passed away suddenly in 2019.

Bruce Nordstrom’s impact on the retail industry and his community was significant. He was not just a business leader but also a generous and loyal individual. His contributions to Nordstrom and his leadership style have left a lasting legacy.

Let’s explore more about Bruce Nordstrom’s life, his journey with the company, and the values he instilled in Nordstrom.

Early Life and Joining the Family Business

Bruce Nordstrom was born into a family with a strong business legacy. His grandfather, John W. Nordstrom, co-founded the company in 1901 after emigrating from Sweden. The business began as a small shoe store in Seattle and gradually expanded over the years.

Bruce joined the family business at a young age. He started working in the stockroom, learning the ropes and understanding the company’s operations from the ground up. This early exposure to the business helped him gain a deep understanding of the retail industry and the importance of customer service.

Taking Over the Business

In 1968, Bruce Nordstrom and his brothers, James and John, took over the leadership of the company from their father, Everett Nordstrom. Under Bruce’s leadership, Nordstrom saw significant growth and expansion.

One of Bruce’s major decisions was to take the company public in 1971. This move was pivotal for Nordstrom’s expansion, as it provided the necessary capital to open more stores and diversify its offerings. Going public also increased the company’s visibility and credibility in the retail industry.

Expanding the Business

Bruce Nordstrom was instrumental in expanding Nordstrom beyond its roots as a shoe store. He introduced new product lines, including clothing and accessories, which helped attract a broader customer base. This diversification was crucial for the company’s growth and success.

In addition to expanding the product lines, Bruce also focused on geographic expansion. He opened new stores across the United States, making Nordstrom a national retail powerhouse. His vision and leadership helped Nordstrom become one of the most recognized and respected names in the retail industry.

Launching Nordstrom Rack

One of Bruce Nordstrom’s significant contributions was the launch of Nordstrom Rack. This lower-priced version of the department store offered discounted merchandise, making Nordstrom’s products accessible to a wider range of customers. Nordstrom Rack became a successful part of the company’s business model, attracting bargain hunters and helping to clear out unsold inventory from the main stores.

Commitment to Customer Service

Bruce Nordstrom was known for his commitment to customer service. He believed that exceptional customer service was the key to success in the retail industry. Under his leadership, Nordstrom became famous for its customer-first approach. The company implemented policies that prioritized customer satisfaction, such as easy returns and personalized shopping experiences.

This focus on customer service set Nordstrom apart from its competitors and helped build a loyal customer base. Bruce’s philosophy was that a satisfied customer would become a repeat customer, and this approach proved to be highly successful for the company.

Legacy and Retirement

Bruce Nordstrom retired as an executive in 1995 but continued to serve on the company’s board of directors until 2006. Even after his retirement, his influence on the company remained strong. His sons, Erik and Pete Nordstrom, took over the leadership roles and continued to uphold the values and principles instilled by their father.

Bruce Nordstrom’s legacy extends beyond the company’s financial success. He was also known for his generosity and commitment to his community. He supported various charitable causes and believed in giving back to society.

Family and Personal Life

Bruce Nordstrom was not just a business leader; he was also a devoted family man. He is survived by his wife, Jeannie, his sister Anne Gittinger, and seven grandchildren. His three sons, Erik, Pete, and Blake, played significant roles in the company. Unfortunately, Blake Nordstrom passed away suddenly in 2019, which was a great loss for the family and the company.

Impact on the Retail Industry

Bruce Nordstrom’s impact on the retail industry is undeniable. He transformed a small family-owned shoe store into a national retail giant. His innovative ideas, commitment to customer service, and strategic decisions helped Nordstrom grow and thrive in a competitive industry.

His leadership style, which emphasized teamwork, integrity, and customer satisfaction, has become a model for other retailers. Bruce Nordstrom’s contributions to the retail industry and his community have left a lasting legacy that will be remembered for years to come.

In conclusion, Bruce Nordstrom was a visionary leader who played a pivotal role in the growth and success of Nordstrom. His commitment to customer service, innovative thinking, and strategic decisions helped transform the company into a national retail powerhouse. His legacy as a business leader, community citizen, and loyal friend will be remembered and cherished by many.


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