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Photo: The Canadian Press

Nordstrom Stores President Jamie Nordstrom, left, Shea Jensen, Nordstrom’s SVP Customer Experience, center, and Nordstrom Co-President & CEO Erik Nordstrom pose for a photo at the Nordstrom Local store, in New York’s Upper East Side, Thursday, Sept. 5, 2019.

Nordstrom opened a new store in Manhattan on Thursday — without any merchandise.

Instead, the store offers services like tailoring and allows customers to pick up or return items, including online orders from any retailer.

The push to open these local hubs comes as Nordstrom, like many department stores, is trying to reinvent itself as it sees customers shopping more online.

“We believe this is our model for the future,” said Erik Nordstrom, the retailer’s co-president. “So we have to figure it out and tweak it. The more we engage our customers, the better it is.”

The Upper East Side location is the first Nordstrom “mini store” in New York. The company opened three others in Los Angeles and plans another one in New York’s West Village later this month. The company’s co-president declined to say how many Nordstrom will open in total.

Last month, retailer trimmed its earnings and sales outlook for the current fiscal year after it reported profit and sales declines in the second quarter. Sales at its full-priced stores dropped 6.5%.

At the Nordstrom mini stores, which average about 2,000 square feet, customers can get fittings and alterations from tailors on the premise, even if they buy their clothes elsewhere. The stores will also accept not only returns of items purchased at Nordstrom but from any online retailer. Customers bring the packaged items, with or without the pre-printed labels, and a salesperson will ship them out. There is no service fee.

Each local store is tailored to the neighbourhood it’s in. For example, the Los Angeles stores offer manicures while the Manhattan Upper East Side store has an area where parents can drop off their baby strollers to be cleaned for a fee.

Nordstrom told The Associated Press that the local strategy focuses on gaining share in the company’s most important markets by making its customers more engaged through the services it offers. The retailer has said its business is highly concentrated in its top markets, with the top 10 accounting for 60% of its overall sales.

So far, Nordstrom is seeing success with its local stores in Los Angeles. Customers spend two and a half times more on average. In addition, product returns are coming in eight days faster than usual, giving Nordstrom a better chance at reselling them.

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