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Posted on Wed, Apr 17, 2013 : 5:57 a.m.

Hundreds of shoppers flock for first peek at Ann Arbor's new Nordstrom Rack

By Lizzy Alfs

Rows of electronics have been replaced with racks of discounted designer clothing at the former Circuit City space in Ann Arbor’s Arborland Center on Washtenaw Avenue.

Nordstrom Rack, the off-price retail division of the Nordstrom Inc. department chain, hosted an invitation-only preview event on Tuesday evening at its first store in Ann Arbor. Hundreds of shoppers flocked to the event, filling the parking lot at the west end of Arborland.

“I was so happy when they brought Nordstrom here at all,” said Betsey Baron, an Ann Arbor resident who attended the event with her friend, Stacey Bodner. “I grew up with Nordstrom and so coming out here and there wasn’t one, I was like, ‘What are you doing to me?’”

The store officially opens at 9 a.m. on April 18. Customers can come to the store at 8 a.m. for breakfast treats, music and to enter a chance to win $100 gift cards or a $1,000 shopping spree, according to a company statement.

Invitations for the preview event were extended to Nordstrom’s Fashion Rewards members and their guests. Attendees could shop, eat and drink, and listen to a DJ spinning tunes. About 50 people were lined up outside the store before the event started at 4 p.m. on Tuesday.

“We kind of had no idea it was going to be this crowded,” said University of Michigan senior Brittany Teramo. Teramo, who’s from New York, had never been to a Nordstrom Rack before.

“It’s really nice,” she said. “Obviously, it just opened right this second, but everything looks good.”

Seattle-based Nordstrom Inc. signed a lease for the 30,000-square-foot space in Arborland Center in fall 2012. Most recently occupied by Circuit City, the space was vacant for three years after the electronic store liquidated. It’s situated between Famous Footwear and Petco.

The Rack stores carry “on-trend merchandise from Nordstrom stores and at 30 to 70 percent off original Nordstrom prices,” according to the company’s website.

Entering the Ann Arbor store, shoppers first come across the accessories section, which has handbags, jewelry, watches, perfume and other items. Sections in women’s clothing are: contemporary, casual, career and active. There is an area for juniors and kids clothing; a men’s section; and men’s and women’s shoes are located in the rear of the store.

The store also features a “green checkout” option, where customers can ask an employee to ring up their order on a mobile device from anywhere in the store. It’s a feature offered in every Nordstrom Rack store.

Bodner, an Ann Arbor resident and preview event attendee, said she prefers Nordstrom Rack stores to other similar retailers because it’s easier to shop.

“They have everything organized and you’re not digging to find things,” she said.

“It’s also fun to have the higher-end stores coming into Ann Arbor,” she added, referring to the tenant lineup at Arbor Hills shopping center on Washtenaw Avenue.

Ann Arbor resident Troy Miller, who also attended the event to check out dress shirts, slacks and shoes, said he likes the variety of things offered at Nordstrom Rack.

“It’s a good addition to Ann Arbor,” he said. “I love their brand and I love the selection, so I’ll definitely come back.”

Nordstrom was founded as a shoe store in 1901, and it now operates 123 Nordstrom Rack locations. There are Nordstrom department stores in Troy, Novi and Clinton Township. There are Nordstrom Rack stores in Troy and Grand Rapids.

The Ann Arbor store hours are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday.

Lizzy Alfs is a business reporter for Reach her at 734-623-2584 or email her at Follow her on Twitter at



Thu, Apr 18, 2013 : 4 p.m.

Bummer, i didn't find out about the grand opening until it was too late, too bad

Nicholas Urfe

Wed, Apr 17, 2013 : 6:48 p.m.

None of those garments are manufactured in sweat shops, right?


Wed, Apr 17, 2013 : 3:40 p.m.

I've been waiting for them to open here for years!! I drive out to the rack store in troy at least twice a month. Will be there at 8am tomorrow ready to dart to the shoe section! If you're willing to dig, Nordstrom rack is the BEST!!! Definitely better quality and selection of merchandise then other off-price stores, especially if you're willing to get something that doesn't fit exactly "perfect" and perform minor alterations.


Wed, Apr 17, 2013 : 1:50 p.m.

Alternative headline: Nordstrom store security gets shopper info from hundreds of customer's cell phones through Wi-Fi intrusion

Jeff Frank

Wed, Apr 17, 2013 : 2:01 p.m.

Easy enough to defeat, if there's any reality to what you've said... turn off your wi-fi.


Wed, Apr 17, 2013 : 1:19 p.m.

Can't wait to check out the shoe selection! That being said, from the pictures above, a question I have always had popped into my head. Why do shoppers at stores like Marshall's, TJMaxx and now Nordstrom Rack insist on taking carts down those narrow aisles and leaving them there as they shop. It makes it impossible to get down the aisle. You literally have to go all the way around to see what is on the other side of the cart that has been left there. Can't you leave your cart at the end of the aisle while you look?


Wed, Apr 17, 2013 : 1:16 p.m.

Nice to have Nordstrom in the area but I won't be shopping there or anywhere. I shop for clothes online that are domestically made, not cheap imports.


Thu, Apr 18, 2013 : 6:27 a.m.

Thank you Tom for correcting me. I'll take a look and if I can afford the items and they fit I may well buy them.


Thu, Apr 18, 2013 : 6:26 a.m.

To dotdash, I shop at the following


Thu, Apr 18, 2013 : 3:03 a.m.

@ Hawkhulk. Dude! You are the Last of the Mohicans! Perhaps L.L.Bean has a very limited few American-made clothing. But, for the most part, we Americans - to avoid going around in nudity - are wearing Made in Asia clothing. What dude? Are you living under a Rock???

Tom Teague

Wed, Apr 17, 2013 : 2:11 p.m.

dotdash - here's one: Just to be clear, I wasn't trying to be snarky either, but did want to point out that those who are concerned about the decline of US clothing manufacturing can find quality American-made clothing at Nordstrom and Nordstrom rack. After all, you don't want to have your presidential ambitions thwarted when you're caught wearing foreign-made suits.


Wed, Apr 17, 2013 : 1:56 p.m.

hawkhulk: Where do you shop online for US made clothes? (serious, not snarky. I'd like to know a few places.)

Tom Teague

Wed, Apr 17, 2013 : 1:43 p.m.

If you prefer other clothiers, that's fine. But my preference for American-made clothing and shoes is exactly why I DO shop at Nordstrom. They usually have a great variety of US-manufactured clothing as does Von Maur. I've seen the same brands in the Nordstrom Rack. And I've never bought anything at a Nordstrom, Nordstrom Rack, or Von Maur that was cheaply made.


Wed, Apr 17, 2013 : 1:15 p.m.

I'd be interested in knowing why they think checking out on a mobile device is considered "green".

Lizzy Alfs

Wed, Apr 17, 2013 : 6:22 p.m.

JCPenney planned to, although I'm not sure if it was ever carried out: That thinking was to save costs by not having to pay as many cashiers.

Kyle Mattson

Wed, Apr 17, 2013 : 6:02 p.m.

I understand the receipt saving being 'green' but then again they could do the same at the actual checkout counters which would be equally green as you would not need the batteries to charge the wireless systems. I'll just consider it more of a 'green light' system where you don't have to wait in line. Obviously Apple was one of the first retailers to adopt these roaming checkouts, has anyone encountered these at any other retailers?


Wed, Apr 17, 2013 : 3:38 p.m.

Your receipt is emailed to you instead of printed out... saving paper. Green :)

Tom Teague

Wed, Apr 17, 2013 : 2:05 p.m.

Also reduces the footprint for the cash register counters, although that's not a green consideration so much as it is a way of devoting more floor space to merchandise.

Lizzy Alfs

Wed, Apr 17, 2013 : 1:47 p.m.

I think the idea is that they email the receipts to you. I'd say it's more about convenience for the shopper, cutting down on wait time.


Wed, Apr 17, 2013 : 12:42 p.m.

It's sad when's lead news article of the day is one that should have "ADVERTISING" plastered all over it.


Wed, Apr 17, 2013 : 10:52 p.m.

Thanks, Kyle. What I thought you said made me curious so I checked the tax records, and it seems like the indivdual stores (the couple I looked at) had SEVs in the $100K-$200K range. I'm not an expert so there may be more to it than that. Just an FYI.

Kyle Mattson

Wed, Apr 17, 2013 : 6:52 p.m.

Hey djm- I'm not that well read on the local/state tax law, so I'll leave it open to any other readers who may be more informed regarding the topic to answer.


Wed, Apr 17, 2013 : 6:33 p.m.

@Lizzy & does that work? Do commercial building owners get a tax abatement when they have vacant buildings? Isn't the taxable SEV set and remain so?

Lizzy Alfs

Wed, Apr 17, 2013 : 6:24 p.m.

Vacancies do affect how much the property owner pays in taxes. Also, depending on Nordstrom's lease agreement, they could be paying taxes for the space. Arborland's owners were the second highest taxpayers in 2012:


Wed, Apr 17, 2013 : 6:18 p.m.

Kyle, I agree it is interesting news. But just curious, what taxes will Nordstrom Rack pay? Did they purchase the space they are in or are they renting? Do they pay other taxes to the city?


Wed, Apr 17, 2013 : 1:54 p.m.

Sorry, LarryJ, it's news. I'm glad to know it.

Kyle Mattson

Wed, Apr 17, 2013 : 1:19 p.m.

There should have been a comma in there Brad, "major" as in a retailer many have been looking forward to opening.

Paula Gardner

Wed, Apr 17, 2013 : 1:18 p.m.

It's also a long-vacated space from a closed big box in Arborland, which is one of the city's largest taxpayers. Our business staff and retail coverage is a key component of news coverage here. Part of that is because of its place in the economy and part is reader interest. The store opening story is just part of the story arc for this space - the vacancy, the lease-signing and now what the store is like (for locals who may not know - I'm actually one of them!) as it prepares to enter this market all are turning points we cover in places/situations like this. I understand that everyone doesn't care. But we do try to tell the story of changes in Ann Arbor, and larger retail openings are a part of that. I've been thinking about what the store's impact could be in the city, and I look forward to writing a column on that. Let me know if you have any thoughts you'd like to share.


Wed, Apr 17, 2013 : 1:04 p.m.

A single store in Arborland = "major tax paying business"? How much taxes are we talking?

Kyle Mattson

Wed, Apr 17, 2013 : 12:53 p.m.

Sorry LarryJ- A major tax paying business opening an Ann Arbor location is news for the community.


Wed, Apr 17, 2013 : 12:33 p.m.

It's about time!!! Can't wait to check it out!!!

Craig Lounsbury

Wed, Apr 17, 2013 : 11:44 a.m.

uh oh. How long can i keep this intel from my wife? 5-4-3-2-1.....

Lizzy Alfs

Wed, Apr 17, 2013 : 1:44 p.m.

Haha! Hilarious. I saw several husbands who accompanied their wives last night - giving them a time and spending limit.


Wed, Apr 17, 2013 : 11:29 a.m.

Sunday, I asked a guy out front when they were opening, and he told me Thursday. When I saw the picture, I thought, "Wait a minute!". Your article nicely explains. Thanks for the heads up! I don't know if I'll buy anything...