End of an Era: Nordstrom Permanently Closes Jeffrey Stores After 30 Years in Business

Jeffrey specialty stores has become perhaps the latest retail casualty related to the coronavirus pandemic. Founder Jeffrey Kalinsky made the announcement on Instagram today that his boutique business, comprised of three stores in partnership with Nordstrom, are shuttering for good.

Kalinsky — who opened his boutique’s first location in Atlanta 30 years ago — sold a majority stake to Nordstrom in 2005. Ultimately, it was the Seattle-based retailer’s decision to shutter the chain due to coronavirus crisis.

“Nordstrom has made the decision to close all three Jeffrey stores,” he posted on social media. “While this decision is disappointing, we understand it’s a necessary step given the significant business impacts of this crisis.”

Though Kalinsky sold his business to Nordstrom, he had remained heavily involved in its operations, which included the Atlanta, New York and Palo Alto, Calif., locations. He also played a large role in helping Nordstrom become a destination for top brands after he was named director of designer merchandising in 2005. Since then, he has served as EVP of designer merchandising and was the current designer fashion director until today, when he made the decision to retire from Nordstrom.

“There’s always been a tremendous synergy between Nordstrom, Jeffrey Kalinsky and his successful luxury specialty stores. Both our brands are built on a relentless commitment to the customer, and a focus on providing them with the best possible service and merchandise offering,” Nordstrom president and chief brand officer Pete Nordstrom said in a statement. “Jeffrey is an icon in the fashion industry, and in his years at Nordstrom, he brought tremendous creativity, innovation and expertise that have been invaluable to us as we’ve worked to establish and expand our designer offering. We’re grateful for his leadership and many contributions to the company. We’ll miss him greatly and wish him all the best.”

Just last year, FN inducted Kalinsky into the Footwear New Hall of Fame during the 2019 FN Achievement Awards. And for the retail pioneer, family was at the heart of his speech when he accepted the honor at the FNAA ceremony in December.

The shoe veteran talked about FN’s important role in his career journey before opening up about how becoming part of the Nordstrom family during the early aughts was a significant career milestone. He then told the crowd how critical his team has been along the way, before tearing up when he talked about growing up in the shoe business under the tutelage of his late father, Morris Kalinsky. “From the minute I could hear, all talk was of the store. The store was the center of my life, our lives I learned so much without even knowing, he said, before thanking his mother, who was in the house to support him.

Jeffrey Kalinsky33rd Annual Footwear News Achievement Awards, Inside, New York, USA - 03 Dec 2019
Jeffrey Kalinsky gave a heartfelt speech at the 2019 FNAAs.
CREDIT: Andrew H. Walker/Footwear News/S

“On behalf of the entire team here at Jeffrey, we want to thank you for your loyalty and support. It has meant a great deal,” Kalinsky said on his Instagram announcement. Thank you for letting me and us be apart of your lives for the past 30 years.”

The news of Jeffrey store closings comes in addition to Nordstrom’s announcement last week that it would close 16 full-line stores. The department store chain, like many of its retail peers, had been hard-hit by the pandemic as it was forced to shutter most of its stores for several weeks and furlough workers as it shouldered the financial impact of the health crisis. It announced on March 23 that it would draw down $800 million on its revolving credit facility, as well as suspend its cash dividend and share repurchases.

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