Blake Nordstrom, a top executive and heir to the department-store dynasty, has died. Here's how the Nordstrom family built their store empire.

Vince Talotta/Toronto Star via Getty ImagesBlake Nordstrom died on Wednesday at 58.

  • Blake Nordstrom, one of the co-presidents of Nordstrom, Inc., died on Wednesday at 58.
  • He had been diagnosed with lymphoma in December.
  • Blake Nordstrom’s brothers, Pete and Erik Nordstrom, will continue to lead the company as co-presidents.
  • The Nordstrom family has owned the retailer since it was founded in 1901.

Blake Nordstrom of Nordstrom, Inc. died on Wednesday at 58, the company announced in a press release.

Nordstrom was a co-president and heir of Nordstrom Inc., which was founded by his great-grandfather.

Blake Nordstrom’s brothers, Pete and Erik Nordstrom, will continue to lead the company as co-presidents.

Nordstrom, initially a shoe store, was founded by John W. Nordstrom and Carl F. Wallin in Seattle in 1901. John Nordstrom handed down the shoe store to his three sons, and over time it grew from a local Seattle business to the largest independent shoe store chain in the US. The second generation of Nordstroms focused on expanding into women’s clothing throughout the 1960s, starting with the acquisition ofSeattle-based Best’s Apparel in 1963.

In 1971, the third generation of Nordstroms took the company public before opening the clearance outlet Nordstrom Rack in 1973. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, expansion of the now-department store continued nationwide. In 1995, the third generation of Nordstroms stepped down, passing the store to their sons.

The fourth generation of Nordstroms – Blake, Pete, and Erik – took Nordstrom digital in 1998, launching Nordstrom.com.

Here’s how the Nordstroms built their empire:


Nordstrom was founded as a shoe store by John W. Nordstrom and Carl F. Wallin in Seattle in 1901.

Shutterstock

Source: Nordstrom


In 1923, the partners opened a second store in Seattle’s University District.

Getty Images

John Nordstrom retired and sold his share to his sons Everett and Elmer in 1928. A year later, Wallin retired and sold his share of the company to the Nordstrom sons. In 1933, John’s third son, Lloyd, joined the team as well.

ShutterstockA Portland, Oregon, Nordstrom store in 2015.

John Nordstrom’s sons focused on expanding into women’s clothing.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

Nordstrom purchased the Seattle-based clothing store Best’s Apparel in 1963. Three years later, the company purchased a Portland, Oregon-based clothing store and began offering both shoes and apparel under the name Nordstrom Best.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

In 1966, men’s and children’s apparel were added.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

In 1968, the three Nordstrom brothers handed the company over to the next generation. Everett’s son Bruce, Elmer’s sons James and John, Lloyd’s son-in-law Jack, and family friend Bob Bender became the new heads of the company.

Getty ImagesBruce Nordstrom.

The third generation of Nordstrom chairmen took the company public in 1971, formally renaming it Nordstrom Inc.

Getty

The first Nordstrom Rack opened in the basement of the downtown Seattle store in 1973.

Business Insider/Mary Hanbury

That same year, the company became the largest-volume fashion specialty store on the West Coast. Sales surpassed $US100 million.


Expansion of the chain continued throughout the next several decades.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

In 1995, the third generation of Nordstrom family members retired as co-chairmen, but remained on the Board of Directors.

Getty Images

The fourth generation of Nordstrom co-chairmen — Blake, Pete, and Erik Nordstrom —took over the company in 1995.

Getty ImagesPete and Blake Nordstrom.

Blake Nordstrom became co-president in 1995, but began working in the family business when he was about 11 years old. His first role with the company was in the stockroom.

Getty Images

Source: Seattle Times


He held many roles with the company before becoming co-president, including merchandise buyer, regional manager, and then vice president in charge of stores in Washington and Alaska.

Vince Talotta/Toronto Star via Getty Images

Source: Seattle Times


Erik Nordstrom worked for his older brother in various positions at the company as the two rose through the ranks together.

Getty ImagesErik and Blake Nordstrom.

Source: Seattle Times


“It was always the best working for my brother because he had more confidence in me and gave me more autonomy than anybody I had ever worked for,” Erik Nordstrom said in his father’s 2007 book, “Leave It Better Than You Found It.”

Getty ImagesBlake and Erik Nordstrom.

Source: Seattle Times


The fourth generation of Nordstrom chairmen were in charge beginning in 2006, when Bruce and John Nordstrom retired from their positions on the Board of Directors.

Getty ImagesBruce Nordstrom.

Source: Seattle Times


In 1998, Nordstrom.com launched.

Nordstrom

Throughout the 2000s, Nordstrom partnered with fashion brands like Façonnable, Topshop, HauteLook, and Jeffery.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

And in 2014, the company started expanding internationally. It opened stores in Canada and Puerto Rico.


Last April, Nordstrom opened its first men’s store, and a flagship women’s store is planned for 2019.

Business Insider/Mary Hanbury


Read more:
Nordstrom just opened its first store just for men – here’s what it’s like to shop there

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