The scene inside the Pacific Centre building, formerly occupied by Eatons and Sears, in downtown Vancouver was a busy hive of activity today.
Ahead of next week’s Nordstrom Vancouver flagship store grand opening, construction contractors and newly-hired store staff were in the process of completing the building’s final touches, stocking merchandise, testing computer systems and performing final training.
The 230,000-square-foot store spans the first three storeys of the remodelled building, which was formerly occupied by Sears until 2012 and before that the now-defunct Eatons department store chain. Everything about the store is chic and sleek, with its marble and wooden finishings to its impressive use of public art.
According to Vancouver store manager Chris Wanless, the store’s space has been carefully designed and is one of the company’s few stores with a flexible design that allows it to adjust to changing consumer demands with ease.
“We want to be a store that serves the hometown community,” Wanless said during a media tour. “We want to make sure people continue to share this with us so that we continue make any changes real time.”
“We have a really broad selection of merchandise for the whole family, so men’s, women’s and kids. That’s very important to us, to satisfy the needs of the entire family. We want to ensure everyone feels comfortable walking through the store that feels really warm.”
The cosmetic, handbag and footwear departments occupy the main floor, women’s clothing on the second floor, and men’s and children’s apparel on the third floor. A number of designer boutique stores, similar to the Holt Renfrew Vancouver location at the other end of Pacific Centre, are scattered across the store.
The Nordstrom chain is renowned for its high level of customer service, and the Vancouver store will be no different.
There is a full concierge similar to a hotel concierge, which will be there to make recommendations for visitors who are in town, suggest great destinations to visit, check in bags and clothes while customers are shopping, and assist with hailing a cab.
A 24-hour ‘express’ service for people who have a fashion emergency, such as situations when people who lose their luggage on their way to Vancouver and have an important meeting to attend. Language ambassadors will also be present for those who do not speak English and are need of translators.
There will be a free, two-hour delivery service within downtown Vancouver and a $15.00, one-day delivery service for those who live outside of 15 kilometres from the city core.
But what really sets the Nordstrom Vancouver store apart from other department stores is that food and beverage options are found on every level. There is a cafe called ‘EBar’ by the store entrance located at the intersection of Granville and Georgia streets, a full-service bar lounge by the escalators on the second level, and a full-service and full-bar restaurant called Bistro Verde on the third level.
The restaurant overlooks Robson Square and the Vancouver Art Gallery and serves fresh local ingredients that are in season. When the store is closed, the restaurant can still be accessed through an express elevator from Howe Street, which allows the restaurant to remain open even after the store’s operating hours.
The Nordstrom Vancouver store will open its doors to the public at 9:30 a.m. on Friday, September 18. To celebrate the opening, a beauty party is planned under a large tent at the Robson Street entrance, with the store’s 150 beauty advisors offering free skin care consultations and beauty lessons all day beginning at 7:30 a.m. There will also be food trucks offering donuts and other goodies.
The store will employ nearly 1,000 people, including a leadership team that was largely hired locally and trained in Seattle over a seven-week period with peer managers. There are approximately 300 Nordstrom stores, and the Vancouver store will be the third of six planned locations in Canada.
Stores in Ottawa and Calgary have already opened, and three more are planned in the Greater Toronto area including at downtown Toronto’s Eaton Centre.
Bracing intense competition, Holt Renfrew Vancouver is upping its game with a major store expansion into space previously occupied by Sportchek. The footprint of the current 150,000 square foot store will grow to 190,000 square feet to provide an expanded women’s handbag and footwear departments.