Bruce Nordstrom Obituary Seattle WA: Billionaire Businessman Passed Away At 90

Bruce Nordstrom, a pivotal figure in expanding his family’s Seattle-based retail business into a national powerhouse, passed away Saturday morning at his home in Seattle. He was 90 years old.

Bruce Nordstrom Obituary

Mr. Nordstrom, part of the third generation to helm the company, assumed leadership in 1968 and played a crucial role in its significant growth. Under his guidance, Nordstrom went public in 1971, marking a transformative period that saw the company’s expansion across Washington, Oregon, Alaska, and, notably, California in the 1970s.

“Our dad will be remembered not only for his significant contributions to Nordstrom but also for his unwavering dedication to his family and friends,” Nordstrom’s sons Pete and Erik Nordstrom stated. “His passion, integrity, and tireless work ethic served as an inspiration to everyone around him. But perhaps his greatest achievement was being an amazing father, husband, and grandfather.”

Determined to expand beyond the Pacific Northwest, Mr. Nordstrom often faced skepticism from industry experts who doubted a Seattle-based retailer could succeed in more sophisticated markets like California. Recalling the challenges of that era in a 2019 interview with the New York Times, he said, “I was told in so many words by the experts, you know, ‘you guys are basically a bunch of dumb Swedes selling to another bunch of dumb Swedes, up in Seattle, in the woods up there. And you’re going to California? Do you understand how sophisticated and hip it is?’ It got under my fingernails so bad.”

By 1980, Nordstrom had become the third-largest specialty retailer in the United States, with plans to open up to 25 new stores in the coming decade. Mr. Nordstrom attributed the company’s success to its broad product offerings, dismissing the conventional wisdom of specializing in a single customer demographic. “Our goal was to sell shoes to everyone in Seattle,” he remarked. Shoes, he believed, were the gateway to selling customers a wide range of products: “That gets them in, and, in the meantime, you sell them everything else.”

An economics graduate from the University of Washington, Mr. Nordstrom held various leadership roles throughout his extensive career. He retired as co-chairman in 1995 but continued to serve on the board until the mid-2000s, a period that included the launch of Nordstrom’s online sales in the late 1990s. He stepped down as chairman of the board in 2006.

Mr. Nordstrom’s tenure also saw its share of challenges. In 1990, the state Department of Labor and Industries accused Nordstrom of routinely failing to pay employees for certain work-related activities. The 1990s brought sluggish sales and earnings, prompting Mr. Nordstrom to come out of retirement in 2000 to reclaim the chairmanship and steer the company back on course.

Despite facing negative customer feedback over a controversial ad campaign urging shoppers to “reinvent yourself,” the company began to recover by the mid-2000s, with rising stock prices and sales. At Mr. Nordstrom’s final annual shareholders meeting as chairman, a longtime customer praised him for the company’s success, particularly against East Coast competitors. “Mr. Bruce, you did something right,” she said.

Bruce Nordstrom Obituary

Mr. Nordstrom is survived by his wife, Jeannie, who was by his side when he died; his sister, Anne Gittinger; his sons, Pete and Erik; daughters-in-law Brandy, Julie, and Molly; and seven grandchildren: Alex, Andy, Leigh, Sam, Sara, Micki, and Chet. He was predeceased by his son, former co-president Blake W. Nordstrom, who died in 2019 at the age of 58.

Bruce Nordstrom’s legacy is marked by his enduring impact on the retail industry and the strong family values he upheld throughout his life. His contributions not only shaped the future of Nordstrom Inc. but also left an indelible mark on his community and the industry at large.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *