The very first thought when I saw a Nordstrom video less than an hour ago. In light of the closure of Nordstrom someone made a 4K walkthrough of the Nordstrom shop in the Eaton Mall in Toronto, which is their flagship. The shop is about 220,000 square foot and the first thought out of my mind was ‘Are you flipping kidding me?’ And I suddenly understood why Nordstrom never made a profit. I cannot understand why the people there did not see this right off the bat. In the first the shop looks pretty amazing, but overly spacious and not in a good way. The shop has about 70,000 square foot of unused space, that is a third and mall space is expensive. So to be wasting space to the likes of 70,000 square foot. I found one source with a price (not verified) of $1,450 per square foot, implying that Nordstrom was wasting $101,500,000 EVERY YEAR on empty space. So what kind of business plan is that? And the video (at https://youtu.be/6IQMgV_7uqE) clearly shows the waste of space. You could setup the entire shop in half the space and when you reduce the cost of one shop by $51,000,000 it amounts to a large sum of money. I do not care what the vision of these people were, when you optionally have 13 stores in the same setup, you are wasting hundreds of millions a year. Now, we know that the others are smaller, but it still implies that the stores were wasting close to half a billion every year. So what gives?
When I wrote ‘The unplanned story’ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2023/03/21/the-unplanned-story/) on the 21st of March, I did make mention of “there is a weakness in your business model, but I do not think it was enough”, in this malls tend to be the same and I did not give it the consideration I optionally could have. I never expected that Nordstrom wasted space to the degree they did. There is more, it seems to be some elite store and Canadians aren’t too elite based (well over 40% of the male population loves their hockey jersey). A shop like this fits Los Angeles, optionally Rodeo Drive, but even then this flagship there would become a money pit soon thereafter, especially when you waste 70,000 square foot of space.
I keep on coming back to the thought, who were these people wasting money to this degree? You see, covid or not, I expect that covid had a massive impact, but the clear waste of space is boggling my mind. Malls are expensive and that keeps on badgering my mind. It also reminded me of a place called Meddens in Rotterdam. A fashion store with exactly the same setup in a place called ‘Lijnbaan’, there is however a difference. The people behind it were brilliant and they bought the entire block. They became an eccentric and exquisite shop, but as they owned the block, their $100K gamble became a multi million euro win and it funded expansion after expansion and after 180 years (in 2010) the 6 shops stopped. I reckon 180 years is a good run. A shop like Nordstrom that stated to CBC last month “Despite our best efforts, we do not see a realistic path to profitability for the Canadian business.” Well, when you waste that kind of space I am not entirely surprised. And it will not take long for places like Holt Renfrew, Hudson’s Bay, and Simons to gobble up the clients. Personally I hope that the staff members will find space in these places as well. They tend to be victims of a business plan, not the instigators of it. It took the parent company less than 10 years to see wisdom and with an earlier quote (I think it was CBC) that they never had a profitable year I actually wonder why it took this long.
The more I saw of this video the more questions came to me and I have no idea what these board people were thinking (if they were thinking). I might seem happy, but I am not. I do not relish anyone’s downfall (Microsoft being the exception) and this shop was managed floor by floor by people who loved their job and their space. You can see that with EVERY display in that shop and there are many of them and we would want to give them a pass for covid, but the shop was not doing well years before that point and that partially angers me, waste tends to do that. A weird start to Sunday for me, but when I see the evidence I am not really overly surprised on the outcome, merely on some people not seeing this clearly years before me.