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Plenty of Unexpected Finds at Nordstrom Rack in Union Square

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At 9am tomorrow, Nordstrom Rack opens in the below-ground section of the former Virgin Megastore space on the southeast end of Union Square. While Nordstrom has never had a Manhattan presence before, it's not entirely new to the city: At today's press preview, president Blake Nordstrom said the brand had been circling New York for ages, ever since it opened a full-price Nordstrom in Paramus, NJ twenty years ago. In an ideal world, the company's first foray into NYC would also be a mainline Nordstrom, he added, but they've never been able to find the right space.

This must be frustrating to Nordstrom, but it's not exactly bad news for Manhattan bargain hunters, who will soon be able to shop the department store's wares at prices that usually amount to about 50% to 60% off retail. Nordstrom pulls about a quarter of their Rack merchandise from what's not selling in other parts of the country; the rest comes from designers, meaning it's still sourced from popular Nordstrom labels.

Some of the names sound familiar from the Filene's Basement up the block—e.g. Free People—but you'll be pleasantly surprised by the selections in the "Brands too hot to mention" racks, which include the likes of Elizabeth & James, Mike & Chris, Milly, and Tracy Reese. Michael Kors and Nanette Lepore got their own signage, Rebecca Minkoff represented in the bag section, and Fendi and Prada offered up sunglasses for $80 in Accessories.

The Nordstrom folks put a lot of thought into making their store appealing to fast-moving Manhattanites. The store's crown jewel is the cash wrap, which is designed to mimic the check-out counters at new neighbor Whole Foods, complete with multiple lines and a sign telling people where to stand. (There are 19 regular registers, but the store has installed 28 for the opening.) Nordstrom has never had an automatic queue before, and they're adorably excited about it. Rack president Geevy Thomas told the assembled reporters proudly about how when he found himself in a long line for popcorn at Iron Man 2 the other day, he realized that Nordstrom would serve New Yorkers better than our own local movie theaters. Which, granted, is maybe not the best metric, but you have to appreciate the effort.
· All Nordstrom Rack coverage [Racked NY]

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