Photo: Connie Zhou
After 40 years of location-hunting and opening a men’s shop across the street last April, Nordstrom braved the retail apocalypse and unveiled its New York City flagship in Columbus Circle this November. The Seattle-based department store chain is luring shoppers away from their computer screens and back into a brick-and-mortar (or a glass-and-steel, in this case) with interactive services, unique brand collaborations, a full-service beauty spa, and a range of dining options.
1. Architecture + Design
It took seven years—one for each shopping level—to plan and construct the 320,000-square-foot store that occupies the base of the Central Park Tower, the world’s tallest residential building at 1,550 feet. Designed by James Carpenter Design Associates, the store comprises four existing buildings and mixes historical renovations with modern touches; a glass wave facade, for instance, allows sunlight to pour in and gives shoppers gorgeous views of the city. Inside, the brightly lit showroom is punctuated by 54 art pieces specifically commissioned for the flagship, which customers can explore through an audio tour on the Art@Nordstrom app.
2. In-Store Features
In a bid to lure online shoppers, Nordstrom has incorporated tech in every facet of the shopping experience: A kiosk lets out a spritz of your favorite scent, based on a 30-second quiz; express return bins are powered by an app; and dressing rooms include screens from which you can page a clerk for alterations. But you’ll still find the low-tech amenities you love, including a denim bar, a stylist lounge where you can customize clothes, and even bowls filled with dog treats for your furry shopping companion. The real star though is the Beauty Haven. A glittery, girly enclave on the second floor, the salon offers traditional services, such as blowouts and manicures, while catering to the adventurous beauty buff with treatments like the Face Gym, which is designed to work out the 42 muscles in your face.
3. Specialty Shops
The hallmark of the shopping here is the ever-changing rotation of product offerings and branded experiences. Curated pop-up shops include Perfect Pairs, a shoe collection that pairs well-known brands with such muses as Patricia Field and Maria Sharapova, and SPACE, a mini-boutique filled with up-and-coming designers who rotate every six to eight weeks. These are mixed in with Instagram-worthy brand collaborations like an exclusive Christian Louboutin shoe collection, a Nike shop stocked with a capsule collection inspired by 90’s NYC, and a Glossier perfume collaboration that brings out your personal undertones—apparently I’m a boozy mix of musk and spices.
4. Food + Drink
Columbus Circle is home to some of the city’s most luxurious dining experiences (think Per Se and Masa), but it’s always lacked the kind of restaurants where you could go for a casual-chic business lunch or after-work drinks. That relative dearth was the inspiration for turning the flagship into a food and beverage Mecca, with seven new restaurants and bars. Chef Ethan Stowell—one of Food & Wine‘s Best New Chefs in America in 2008—launched an East Coast location of his popular Seattle spot Wolf, which serves Italian–Pacific Northwest cuisine with a heavy focus on fresh seafood, while James Beard Award–winning chef Tom Douglas designed the menu at the more casual, seasonal Italian restaurant Jeannie’s, named for a Nordstrom family matriarch. You’ll also want to stop by Oh Mochi, a stand with pillow-soft, gluten-free doughnuts, and Shoe Bar, a stylish place to sip handcrafted cocktails and craft beer in between trying on stilettos.
5. Holiday Experiences
The holidays seep in subtly throughout the store: Think limited-edition chocolate peppermint doughnuts at Oh Mochi and pop-ups like Best Gift Ever, a collection of bespoke gifts curated by Nordstrom’s Olivia Kim and 14 celebrity guests, including RuPaul and Bill Nye. Holiday shopping stress is eased in fun, sweet touches like customizable Santa sacks and a Dixieland Jazz Band that descends the escalator with Santa to announce his daily photo-ops.