Bruce Nordstrom Reminisces About Sweeping His Family Store’s Floors at 9 Years Old

“I’m a shoe dog. I say that with all my heart. That doesn’t sound like a complimentary title, but that’s me,” declared Bruce Nordstrom today onstage at the Footwear News Achievement Awards in New York. It’s an apt statement coming from a retail icon who cut his teeth at 9 years old sweeping floors at his family’s store.

Nordstrom, who was introduced by his son Erik, recalled his four-decade career today as he was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award.

“The fact that this business was started by a Swedish immigrant who never went to school,” he recalled. “I started selling shoes at 14. This thing about service — that’s where it started back in those days.”

When Nordstrom was 30, he was managing his family’s stores in Portland, Ore. “We had a number of stores and sold some dresses and suits; the shoe thing is still the heart of our business.” Now the retailer has around 76,000 employees.

At that age, Nordstrom was named president. “I’m 85 years old now — so that’s a big scope there.”

“So here I am tonight, so proud to get this recognition and our company’s recognition. I love the shoe business.”

The FN Achievement Awards is a night in which business leaders, A-list celebrities, big-name influencers and more gather at the IAC Building in New York to recognize and celebrate veteran brands, emerging talents and revitalized retailers (watch the livestream here). This year’s honorees include Bruce Nordstrom, who was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award; Diane Sullivan as Person of the Year; Tabitha Simmons as Designer of the Year; and Christie Brinkley and her daughters, Sailor Brinkley-Cook and Alexa Ray Joel, as FN’s first multigenerational style influencers; and more. Learn more about all the honorees here.

The sponsors for the awards are FFANY, the Footwear Distributors & Retailers of America, Micam, Zappos Luxury, Ruffino Wine and Avery Dennison RBIS.

See photos from the red carpet at the 2018 FNAAs.

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