Did you know that the $14 billion Nordstrom chain stores were started by a sixteen year old who fled to America with only $5.00 (roughly $119.00 in today’s currency) in his pocket?

His name was John W. Nordstrom, who’s dad died when he was eight. In need of money John fled his home at 16 and emigrated to New York City  in 1887.

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Nordstom Did a Series of Back Breaking Jobs Just to Get By….

John labored in mines and logging camps for years as he crossed the country to California and Washington. In 1897, he headed north to Alaska and the Klondike in search of gold. Two years later, he returned to Seattle with a $13,000 in Alaskan gold ready to make his next move.

Nordstrom partnered up with business partner Carl F. Wallin, a Seattle shoemaker Nordstrom had met in Alaska. Wallin offered him a partnership in a shoe store with zero retail experience. In 1901, the gold rush veterans had opened their first store, Wallin & Nordstrom, on Fourth and Pike in Seattle.

Then Nordstrom’s Son Scaled the Family Business into an Empire…

Nordstrom’s sons took over in 1928. By 1960, two stores had grown into eight. The Seattle flagship was the largest shoe store in the country, and Wallin & Nordstrom became the nation’s largest independent shoe chain.

Under a third generation of Nordstrom sons, Nordstrom, Inc. entered into new markets well beyond Seattle. Clothing was added to the shelves in the 1960s and the company was renamed Nordstrom Best in 1969. In 1971, the company went public with its first stock offering  and by 1973, Nordstrom Best formally changed its name to Nordstrom

Today, Nordstrom is doing $14.79 billion in revenue. The family still runs the chain of 247 rack stores across 40 states from their headquarters in Seattle.

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