In His Words: Blake Nordstrom on Family, Business & the Retailer’s Legacy

Blake Nordstrom, co-president of the storied retail company, passed away today at 58 years old after being diagnosed with lymphoma last month.

Honoring his legacy, FN highlights some of the executive’s most memorable quotes.

On father (and 2018 FN Lifetime Achievement Award winner) Bruce Nordstrom:

“Pete, Erik and I were really fortunate to spend our early years in the business in the shoe division. What we learned back then in many ways is still applicable today as we support the business. We were extremely fortunate to work with a number of terrific managers. They, in turn, were supported by our dad, who was unwavering over the years in his true north of how to be a good merchant and be successful in the shoe business.”

On the importance of the company’s off-price business:

“For us, for Nordstrom to win, off-price has to be successful. There’ll be times over the years where one quarter full-price is better than off-price or off-price is better than full price, but over the long haul, we need a strong and robust off-price business.”

On designer Vince Camuto, whom he first met in 1983 as a shoe buyer:

“Vince is a super-talented individual who over the years has translated fashion at popular price points for a larger audience to enjoy and be a part of. His body of work speaks for itself. In my career, only a handful of people have been able to achieve what Vince has.”

On fostering a familial spirit throughout the company:

“We want all employees to feel as though it’s their name on the door and that they are empowered to do whatever it takes to serve the customer on their terms. Our open-door policy is connected to the idea that we all have a stake in this together. It’s up to each of us to play our role in delivering the best experience for the customer.”

On President Donald Trump’s immigration ban, written with co-presidents and brothers Peter and Erik:

“When John W. Nordstrom came to the U.S. as an immigrant, he was given opportunities that allowed him to find a more prosperous and happy life. In so many ways, our humble beginning and the work ethic and gratitude that goes with it helped shape the culture of our company to this day. Over 116 years, we have been fortunate to be able to build on the foundation JWN laid for us, thanks to all of you who have chosen to bring your unique experiences and backgrounds to work here at Nordstrom every day. We currently employ more than 76,000 people who comprise different races, ethnicities and genders. We literally have thousands of employees who are first- and second-generation immigrants. Every one of your unique qualities brings a richness that allows us to better reflect and serve the multicultured communities we’re a part of and ultimately makes us a better company. We are a better place with you here, no doubt about it. It’s important that we reiterate our values to all of you and make it clear that we support each of our employees. We will continue to value diversity, inclusion, respect and kindness … you can count on that.”

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