The Nordstrom Way


earlier this year I read The Nordstrom Way by Robert Spencer and Patrick D. McCarthy, published in 1995  (printed on acid-free paper) by John Wiley and Sons, Inc.

From the front inside flap:  “When it comes to customer service, Nordstrom’s standards are ‘what we all shoot for’ declares David Glass, president and CEO of Wal-Mart. ‘The Nordstrom Way’ marveled correspondent Morley Safer in a SIXTY MINUTES profile, is ‘not service like it used to be but service like it never was.’

And to that I would like to add a personal memoir.

From an earlier post entitled Nordstrom Shoes:

“I own a pair of shoes that occasionally draw curious glances from friends who know me to be choosy in my selection of apparel. Recently, a pal of mine, who like my long-since departed parents spent most of his career working in the garment industry, asked me. ‘Lee, where on earth did you find those pointy-toed shoes?’

During the Seventies, Nordstrom Department Stores assembled a promotional package to test the Phoenix market.  It included round-trip airfare with the newly formed Southwest Airlines, Friday and Saturday nights at the Bonaventure Hotel, two lavish breakfasts rivaling the Las Vegas buffets of the day and generous discounts. I took part in the maiden voyage which left me with wonderful memories.

Atop one of the hotel towers was a park with trees and grass and hotel staff pampering and pandering about and pigeons to distract us from the tacky looking view of older, seedier tenements less than a block away. I compared this event with similar trips I occasionally took to Las Vegas in those years which included young, attractive people of both sexes apparently hired as shills to engage us in friendly banter as we pored over the hundred-dollar shirts and the Ballys and Cole Hahns in the leather footwear departments.

I smiled at the question and replied.  ‘At Nordstrom, John; I bought them at Nordstrom.’

This memoir is typical of The Nordstrom Way. In the next few years I would receive similar complimentary forays into newsworthy events on the American scene; the opening of EPCOT Center, the maiden flight of Southwest Airlines, and to many other Grand and Glorious celebrations, many of which were inspired by The Nordstrom Way.

As a member of The Phoenix Press Club this type of pampering of members of the press were not new; it was the level of personal involvement of those who put on these extravagant displays of public persuasion that made them stand out. It was the Nordstrom application of intimacy that change the way the American Corporate World did business.

This kind of community outreach has pretty much been replaced in recent years by the forceful collection of personal data. As an American business man, I am committed to the continuation of The Nordstrom Way of personal involvement in my way of doing business and in maintaining friendships.

By Lee Broom From Leadership: A Love Story.


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