After 44 years, Nordstrom store to leave Anchorage

Nordstrom store on 6th Avenue is connected to the 5th Avenue Mall. (Wikimedia image by Mike Czyzewski)

An iconic retailer in Anchorage is closing its doors.  In a statement released Wednesday, Nordstrom says that after 44 years it is leaving its downtown location.

“We’ve made the decision to close our Nordstrom store in Anchorage,” wrote Emily Sterken in the statement. “The store’s last day of business will be Friday, September 13, 2019.”

“It’s an iconic symbol,” said Andrew Halcro, Executive Director of the Anchorage Community Development Authority, a quasi-municipal entity that is landlord of the 6th Avenue building housing Nordstrom.

According to Halcro, for the last couple years, the city has heard rumors the luxury retailer may leave its downtown location. Officials have tried negotiating an alternative option, but that didn’t work.

“Unfortunately, as retail trends goes, it’s also a symbol of the 1980s and 90s,” Halcro said, referring to Nordstrom.

There are two main economic factors driving to the company’s decision to pull out. One is a nation-wide decline in the profitability of brick-and-mortar stores as online retailers like Amazon compete for consumer dollars.

The second, according to Halcro, is the decline in the local economy.

“You cannot escape that the Anchorage socio-economic demographics have dramatically changed. I mean, in the 80s and 90s there were layers and layers of oil company executives, their families, their wives, that shopped at Nordstrom. If you were ever there around Christmas time, it was the place to be. And the market has changed. Those jobs have moved on,” he said.

Halcro also points to shifting expectations in professional attire. Workplaces have generally gotten more casual. So, fewer workers need high-end suits or dresses. 

Nordstrom has been closing stores around the country in recent years — though at nowhere near the pace as down-market department stores like Kohl’s or Sear’s. The company has more than a hundred Nordstrom shops in the U.S. In its first-quarter earning’s report this May, the company said that after a disappointing year it expects a further decline in sales.

Around 170 employees currently work at the downtown Anchorage location. In it’s statement, the company said, “We’re working with each impacted employee to help them determine their next steps and help them each find other roles within Nordstrom whenever possible.”

Nordstrom Rack, the company’s discount alternative shop, has no plans to leave its current Midtown Anchorage location.

Zachariah Hughes reports on city & state politics, arts & culture, drugs, and military affairs in Anchorage and South Central Alaska.

@ZachHughesAK About Zachariah

Previous articleTeen voices: stories about mental health, stigma and hope
Next articleEPA reconsiders restrictions on Pebble