Legendary Retail Patriarch Bruce Nordstrom Cheers On Son Pete at WWD Summit

Pete Nordstrom Pete Nordstrom responds to
Pete Nordstrom Pete Nordstrom responds to questions during a news conference, in New York.
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In a room full of powerful fashion executives, one person stood out at the WWD CEO Summit this morning: legendary Nordstrom patriarch Bruce Nordstrom.

He was there to cheer on his son Pete Nordstrom, who delivered the opening address at the event. (Pete is co-president of Nordstrom, along with brothers Blake and Eric.)

Nordstrom has always been a family affair, from its humble beginnings as a footwear retailer.

“Shoes are the foundation of our entire legacy,” Pete Nordstrom told the crowd in response to a question about how he viewed Macy’s new self-service push with its own footwear department. “In a lot of ways, shoes represent the quintessential service opportunity.” (He joked that his dad — who emphasized to his children the importance of customer service — would kill him if Nordstrom ever moved to a self-service system in shoes.)

“Customer service is a big part of our culture and legacy,” Nordstrom said earlier in the conversation with WWD editor-in-chief Miles Socha. “To serve people well, you have to be aligned with what they’re interested in.”

Nordstrom Pete, Blake and Erik Nordstrom. FN Archives

The retailer has learned a lot about what its customers want through its Canadian stores. “There are a lot of issues that make doing business across the border challenging,” he said. “We have opened six stores there, and we are still learning.”

For the company’s upcoming New York opening, the executive has high expectations. “We want to be the best store in the world,” Nordstrom said, noting that it’s a balancing act to serve local shoppers and global tourists. The retailer knows there’s demand in the Big Apple: A sizable portion of its e-commerce business comes from the tri-state area.)

When asked about the retailer’s go-private deal, which was recently put on hold, Nordstrom said:
“There’s a limit to what I can say. There is a legal process unfolding that’s been interesting. We will have to wait and see. If it works out, great. If not, we still want to be the best public retailer we can.”