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Bruce Nordstrom Dies at 90

Third-generation leader helped steer luxury retailer beyond its hometown




The geographic expansion of the Nordstrom chain undertaken by Bruce Nordstrom eventually brought it to New York. Photo: wdstock/

Bruce Nordstrom, 90, a major force in transforming his family’s namesake Seattle-based company into a national retailer, has died, a number of publications report, including his hometown Seattle Times.

Part of the third generation of family leadership that took over in 1968 and encouraged the company to go public in 1971, Nordstrom also helped steer the company during a key period that included expansion throughout Washington, Oregon, Alaska and — crucially — California in the 1970s, the Times account noted.

“Our dad will be remembered not only for his significant contributions to Nordstrom but also for his unwavering dedication to his family and friends,” sons Pete and Erik Nordstrom, President and CEO of the company, respectively, said in a statement released to the newspaper.

Bruce Nordstrom was irked by industry smugness that dismissed a Seattle-based retailer, the Times reports.

Nordstrom recalled to The New York Times in 2019 that, as the company expanded to California decades earlier, “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.”

Even as the store’s offerings expanded, shoes – the retailer’s founding business – remained a major draw, Nordstrom said. “That gets them in, and, in the meantime, you sell them everything else.”


In 1968, he and his cousins Jim and John Nordstrom, along with cousin-in-law Jack McMillan, took over the company and made it public three years later.

He retired as co-chairman in 1995, then served on the board until the mid-2000s.

Nordstrom is survived by his wife Jeannie — who his family said was at his side when he died — his sister, Anne Gittinger; his sons Pete and Erik (who recently proposed taking the retailer private); daughters-in-law Brandy, Julie and Molly; and seven grandchildren. A son, former Co-President Blake W. Nordstrom, died in 2019 at the age of 58.

“Our dad leaves a powerful legacy as a legendary business leader, a generous community citizen and a loyal friend,” Nordstrom’s sons said.



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