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Boise marks symbolic end to its longtime shopping inferiority complex…

Has the City Without a Nordstrom finally ended its sad distinction? This is Boise, where for years, hundreds of shoppers boarded buses to Ogden, Utah each year to shop at what their hometown lacked - a Nordstrom department store. Today, the first Nordstrom store in the state of Idaho opened, but it's not a full-line department store, it's an off-price Nordstrom Rack. The difference: A focus on discounted merchandise, in a 37,000-square-foot store - a full-line Nordstrom department store typically offers 138,000 to 140,000 square feet of shopping.

Happy customers who crowded the newly opened store this morning didn't seem at all perturbed by the difference; you can read my full story here at spokesman.com. Kristin Magruder, 40, recalls that when she moved to the Boise area from Southern California at the age of 6, "I couldn't understand why we couldn't go to the mall and get frozen yogurt." The reason: "Because literally there was no mall." Boise's grown since then, and now has a big shopping mall, Boise Towne Square, and a plethora of big box stores, but it's long continued to lack a Nordstrom; Magruder admits to visiting the store in places like Salt Lake City and Portland.

"It's been nice to see Boise evolve from Hicksville to at least a mid-sized market," she said with a smile. "I think we'll get there eventually." She added, "It's nice not to take my shopping out of state." Check out my 1995 column here on how Boise shoppers used to do just that.

The new Nordstrom Rack store was packed with shoppers this morning, and its vast parking lot was full; it's in a former Linens 'n Things location next to Old Navy, in a strip-mall development just outside the Boise Towne Square mall. Joan Endicott, who's lived near Caldwell for 31 years, remembered shopping at Nordstrom Rack in Portland long ago, and was glad to see it arrive. "They have extraordinary customer service," she said. "I'm so delighted and excited that it's here."

The mostly unadorned store seems vast and almost warehouse-like, but it's clean, filled with merchandise, and along with shoppers, with ubiquitous brightly-attired store employees who were attentively making sure customers were finding what they sought. Nordstrom spokeswoman Kendall Ault said, "This was a great opportunity in the shopping center here … that was an exact fit for a Nordstrom Rack store. A lot of things have to fall into place in order for us to open a full-line store in a market. … We know we're fortunate to have a lot of customers in the area, and we wanted to find a way to better serve them."

The new Boise store is Nordstrom's 106th Rack store, and Boise is the third city to get a Nordstrom Rack without also having a full-line Nordstrom department store - the other two are Tucson, just this past fall, and Manhattan.

Back in 1987, when the Ogden Nordstrom first started busing Boise shoppers down to Utah, the Buy Idaho campaign protested vigorously to no avail. Then-executive director Karleane Allen told the Associated Press, "It's an interesting marketing strategy, to find our weak point, and Nordstrom is our weak point … knowing how much everybody wants them here."

Nordstrom offers shoppers an online Rack experience

North Spokane residents who are disappointed that the Nordstrom Rack store moved last month from NorthTown to Spokane Valley Mall can now do their Rack-shopping online.

Last month, the Seattle retailer launched an online section to Nordstrom.com that features some of the items sold at its off-price, discount Rack store.

Nordstrom has been opening new Rack stores around the country, including one not long ago in the middle of Manhattan.  The online expansion is a sign that the company realizes many of its customers are more mindful than ever of the option of shopping for price.

The company now has 86 Rack stores in 23 states.  In its SEC documents, the company has noted that, while monthly sales at Nordstrom stores declined from mid-2008 to late 2009, the Rack division has posted growth in the low- to mid-single digits.

Nordstrom Rack kicks off next week with $2,000 shopping spree

For fans of high-end discount shopping, the news is Nordstrom’s Rack will reopen on Oct. 28 at 10 a.m., at the Spokane Valley Plaza. It’s filling 30,000 square feet next to Old Navy (in the building due west of the west side entrance to Spokane Valley Mall).

The retailer will close the NorthTown Rack store on Tuesday and spend all day Wednesday making the final move of equipment, supplies and inventory.  The new store will have roughly 70 workers.

On Wednesday Oct. 27 we’ll do a short story and give people a heads-up on getting ready for the $2,000 Run through the Rack Contest. An explanation is offered here. But our story will give you some clues on what to do, if you’re the winner, of the $2,000 or 90-second shopping spree.

The Nordstrom Rack is the company’s wide-selection unit devoted to discounted items and overstock.

Nordstrom Rack Packs For Valley

Nordstrom Rack is moving east, to be closer to the highway and closer to North Idaho. Those are the reasons given by the Seattle-based clothing retailer for leaving the NorthTown Mall and taking up a 30,000-square-foot space in the Spokane Valley Plaza. It expects the Rack, Valley version, will open in October. It’s taking space last used by Linens ‘n Things, in a triplex flanked by Sportsman’s Warehouse and Old Navy, west of the Spokane Valley Mall. The Rack is the off-price division of Nordstrom that offers merchandise from other stores at significant discounts/Tom Sowa, Office Hours. More here. (SR File Photo: Shoppers pack the Nordstrom Rack in Northtown Mall as it opens in 2000.)Question: Are you more likely to go to Nordstrom Rack now that it has moved from North Town Mall to Spokane Valley Plaza?