Nordstrom on Wednesday said it will close its stores at Westfield Vancouver mall and Portland’s Lloyd Center in about a year, leaving Clark County shoppers with online alternatives and trips to Portland as their main replacements.
The store closings coincide with terms stipulated in lease contracts with the malls, according to a spokeswoman for the Seattle-based retailer. The retailer must give 12 months’ notice prior to vacating the store sites. The company did not take lightly the decision to close the two stores, among the chain’s worst performers for quite some time, said Brooke White, speaking on behalf of Nordstrom.
On a brighter note, the advanced notice allows the company to find other positions for 384 Nordstrom employees — 164 from the Vancouver store and 220 from the Lloyd Center store — affected by the closures, White said.
“We’ll be able to find jobs for these people over the next year,” she said.
In the Portland area, Nordstrom operates three full-line department stores and four Nordstrom Rack discount stores, along with a distribution center on North Marine Drive.
Nordstrom’s 71,370-square-foot Vancouver store has been an anchor since 1977 at the 940,230-square-foot Westfield Vancouver shopping mall west of Interstate 205 at state Highway 500. Its Lloyd Center store has operated at that mall since 1960. The Lloyd store was moved from its original location in 1990 into a new 150,000-square-foot building as part of a major construction project to enclose the once open-air mall.
Blow to community
Absent its closure, the Lloyd Center store would have been the next nearest site for Clark County Nordstrom shoppers, said Pam Lindloff, a commercial real estate broker in Vancouver.
“Not only are they closing the Vancouver store, but the next closest store,” said Lindloff, an associate vice president with NAI Norris Beggs and Simpson.
Nordstrom’s store in downtown Portland is about 15 miles from Westfield Vancouver mall. Its Washington Square store is about 26 miles away, and its store at the Clackamas Town Center mall is about 15 miles away. And the three Oregon locations won’t generate sales tax revenue for Washington or for Clark County, Lindloff said.
She called the loss of sales tax revenue and Nordstrom wages both a blow to the community.
“This is an impact to money that’s generated within the community and spent within the community,” Lindloff said.
But it just wasn’t a profitable option for Nordstrom to continue operating its older and smaller-than-average Vancouver store, according to White, who said Nordstrom officials considered remodeling the site but did not foresee a return on investment.
“The store needed an investment, a remodel, but the minute we do that, we go in the red,” White said. “It did not pencil out.”
She said the Vancouver store’s lower sales were affected by the store’s smaller size and not by the fact that it is the only area Nordstrom where customers are charged a state sales tax of 8.2 percent.
“When you look at the stores in the area that are performing really well, it’s the bigger stores,” she said. “In the end, it’s about bigger selection.”
A spokeswoman for Westfield Vancouver mall said in a written statement that Nordstrom’s planned departure will give the company a chance to fill the space with something new and energetic.
“Although Nordstrom will be missed, we view this departure as an opportunity to add exciting new energy, choice and convenience to Westfield Vancouver,” said Heather Almond, Westfield’s vice president of regional marketing Northwest.
The mall lost its Mervyns anchor store in 2007 and by 2012 had replaced the department store with an $18 million Cinetopia movie cineplex. The new tenant was part of a multimillion-dollar mall remodel. The mall is owned by the Westfield Group, an Australian company with 119 shopping malls in the United States, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.
This year the mall added new retailers that include White House-Black Market, Loft, Francesca’s Collection and G by Guess.
White, the Nordstrom spokeswoman, said it is too soon to speculate whether Nordstrom will consider locating one of its Nordstrom Rack discount stores in Vancouver.
“We don’t have plans for a Rack immediately, but who knows?” she said.
In a corporate statement on Wednesday, Erik Nordstrom, president of stores, said closing the Vancouver and Lloyd Center stores wasn’t an easy decision.
“We care a great deal about the community, our customers and our employees here,” Nordstrom said.
White said the company intends to continue operating its three Portland-area stores, considered “full-line” Nordstroms, in downtown Portland, and at the Washington Square and Clackamas Town Center malls. It also plans to continue doing business at nearby Nordstrom Rack stores in Portland and outlying malls at Clackamas, Tanasbourne and Cascade Plaza, and its Portland distribution center.
Nordstrom operates 260 stores in 35 states, including 117 full-line stores, 140 Nordstrom Racks, two Jeffrey boutiques and one clearance store. Nordstrom also serves customers through Nordstrom.com and its online, members-only private-sale marketplace, HauteLook.
“Some of our stores in Portland are among the best performing in the country,” White said.
Still, a post about the store closure on The Columbian’s Facebook page Wednesday prompted complaints from more than a dozen online followers who were dismayed about losing the chain’s convenient location.
“This is so aggravating,” said Vancouver resident Jessica Kirby, in a Facebook post. She indicated the closure of Nordstrom’s next nearest location at Lloyd Center would force her to replace shopping at the company’s brick-and-mortar stores with online shopping.
“With Lloyd closing, that means (going to) Clackamas or downtown,” Kirby said. “That becomes a trek.”