No sign of recession as opulent Nordstrom opens at Christiana Mall

Hundreds of shoppers poured into the brand new department store at Christiana Mall ready to spend.

They weren’t just browsing.  The throngs at Nordstrom on opening day were lined up and making purchases at registers on both floors of the mall’s new anchor store.

Peter Nordstrom, Executive Vice President and President of Merchandising at the family company, was at the Christiana store for today’s grand opening.  He says the company has been looking at the mall’s success for a number of years.  “We knew that this was a really productive center.  We’ve known that for a long time. And then, the mall developers here had plans to make it better, and that was really the catalyst for us to become part of it,” Nordstrom says.

Christiana Mall manager Steven Chambliss says the opening of Nordstrom is the final piece of the mall’s rejuvenation project that’s been more than three years in the making.  “Nordstrom is kind of the crowning jewel of what we’re doing here.”  He says, “It brings a whole other level of people.  This will bring shoppers from a lot further of a distance, the next Nordstrom store is an hour away at least, so people are going to be coming this way instead.”

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The improvements at the mall come at a time when a number of other malls around the country are struggling.  The Wall Street Journal reports today that mall vacancies hit an 11-year-high in the first quarter of 2011.  Real estate research firm Reis Inc. reports that the top 80 U.S. markets have an average vacancy rate of 9.1%, up from 8.7% in the previous quarter.  

Despite tough economic times, shoppers were spending away today in the store’s opening hours.  Nordstrom says, “Our job is to control what we control.  We can’t control the economy, but we can really work on creating a great customer experience for everyone that walks in the door and try to gain market share.  That’s what we focus on.  And again, I think you’ll see that if you give people a good reason to shop, they’ll come out.”

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