From the Archive: Nordstrom’s Illustrated History

In 1887, a 16-year-old boy left his home country of Sweden for the promise of New York City. He arrived with only five dollars in his pocket, unable to speak a word of English. His name? John W. Nordstrom.

What better time than now—during our biggest event of the year, Anniversary Sale—to take a look back at Nordstrom’s rich, 111-year heritage. The images here depict a portion of Nordstrom history that saw the company grow from humble beginnings to, at one point, America’s largest independent shoe store.

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[Above]: Our founder, John W. Nordstrom himself, in front of the original Wallin & Nordstrom shoe shop in Downtown Seattle, circa 1901.

Dapper staff members, circa 1901.

Well-stocked, circa 1910.

Stylish salespeople, circa 1920s.
Wallin & Nordstrom added their second store in 1923. In 1928, John W. Nordstrom retired, selling his share of the company to his sons, Everett and Elmer. Son Lloyd joined his brothers in 1933.

‘Shoe Dogs’ (as Nordstrom’s hard-working shoe salespeople are reverentially dubbed) on the front line, circa 1940s.

Nordstrom’s in neon—before we dropped the apostrophe-s—circa 1950s.
By 1960, Nordstrom had grown to eight stores in Washington and Oregon, and the Downtown Seattle store became the largest shoe store in the country.

Nordstrom, initially just a shoe store, ventured into the clothing market in 1963—first with women’s apparel, and then adding menswear in 1966.
Shown: a brand-new store in Southcenter, Washington, 1968.

The Men’s Shoes department at Southcenter, 1968.
Also in 1968, the second generation of Nordstroms retired, handing the company on to a third generation of Nordstrom brothers. Today, the company is managed by John W. Nordstrom’s great-grandsons, in addition to the executive management team.

{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Curious March 3, 2014, 9:29 pm

    Just wondering if all of the men and women staff in the 1910’s to 1940’s photos are today identified , since that generation of family and employees are likely not with us any longer…..but I hope they are ! Was that an important step to make back then , in identifying those employees, as it is today ? The photos are absolutely priceless , as they captured those moments which will never be here again. Does the Nordstrom family know those past employees names ? Thank You . I’m Curious.

  • Justin, Blog Editor March 8, 2014, 7:09 pm

    Hi Curious,
    Just wanted to let you know our PR team is looking into this. We’ll let you know if we’re able to uncover any information.
    Thank you for reading and for your question!
    Justin, Men’s Blog Editor

  • F. David October 15, 2014, 12:35 pm

    Can you provide me with more information on the 1971 IPO of Nordstrom? I’m working on a valuation project.

    F. David

  • Justin, Blog Editor October 16, 2014, 12:59 pm

    Hi F. David, thanks for reading.
    Try this link to our Press Room Media/Student FAQ page. If you still have questions, feel free to let us know.
    —Justin, Blog Editor

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