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First Half Yearly of Nordstrom Arden Fair – Blog #59

First Half Yearly of Arden Fair

In Blog #58 I talked about escaping the Loma Prieta Earthquake in 1989.  In this blog I want to talk about the First Half Yearly of Nordstrom Arden Fair.

The store in Arden Fair was really coming along, the team was getting along really well. We started doing things more frequently outside of work together for fun. Half Yearly was just around the corner next month and being my second time, I knew what to expect. We had way more shoes to process in this store though…

Hash Night

Steve got a team of people to do an “overnight hash run” and the rest of the team would work the floor the next day. So the week prior we “tagged” all the sale shoes with dots from the list Steve gave us. We would pull the shoes from the stockroom wall and run them out to the sales floor once the customers left. We arranged everything by size. We then placed size spots on the floor to place the shoes in the right size area.

In the meantime we had a team in the back that would shift the entire stockroom to make room for a giant hash area by size. We would later number them to make it easy to find the shoes. Once the stockroom was shifted and all the shoes were brought out, we formed a chain gang and started running the shoes into the empty space we made. It took all night to complete.

After Hash Night

The next few weeks we would label all the shoes numerically with a three part sticker.

  1. One big number sticker for the box.
  2. A second number sticker for the left shoe we would place on the shank area.
  3. The third sticker would go into the right heel cup with the size, sale price and matching number.

Every salesperson was responsible for a number of sections of the hash and they had to label all the stickers, pull out all the paper and sticks and stuff so there wouldn’t be a mess on the floor. During the course of the sale you would be responsible for a neat hash section before you left too.

The First Half Yearly of Nordstrom Arden Fair was the task but a great “bonding time” for the team


…just sharing my story and tips from my footwear career. 

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Escaping the Loma Prieta Earthquake – Blog #58

Escaping the Loma Prieta Earthquake

Blog #57 I talked about people of the opening of Nordstrom  Arden Fair . In this blog I want to talk about escaping the Loma Prieta Earthquake in 1989

The store in Arden Fair was really busy the first few weeks. I was still glowing about being named the first store All-Star. We were all busy taking care of customers and then it happened…

Floor started shaking

A rather strong rolling sensation occurred which reminded me of the earthquakes I experienced in Southern California. But in Sacramento?

It was October 17, 1989. There were reports rather quickly that a massive earthquake struck the Bay Area at 5:04 pm.. The earthquake was a magnitude of 6.9.  64 people died that day.

This also occured the time the Oakland A’s were playing the San Francisco Giants in the World Series. The Cypress structure collapsed during the quake, resulting in 42 fatalities. Another person was killed when a portion of the Bay Bridge collapsed onto the lower level. There were fires and billions of dollars of damage. 


Scary thing was I used to travel through the Cypress structure and I also took BART, which got stuck underneath the Bay for a while. I usually got off around that time so who knows where I would have been. We felt so sad for all the victims and felt fortunate I had moved my family when I did.

I was also thankful that my friends in San Francisco were all ok as well as family members who still lived there. One of my relatives was actually at the World Series when it happened.

Below is Martha’s story on her account that day in San Francisco:

Martha’s Story:

The city of San Francisco was hosting game three of the World Series at Candlestick Park on October 17, 1989. The Nordstrom Store in the San Francisco Center had been extremely busy due to all the visitors in town for the big sporting event.  Salon Shoes was buzzing, the registers were ringing, sales associates were attending to multiple customers on the sales floor, and sales goals were being achieved.   

At 5:04 p.m. all the sounds came to an abrupt halt.   The earth beneath us began to shake with such vigor that the building began to role from left to right, up and down and we were moving along with it.  We had never felt anything like this.  I had experienced several earthquakes but this one was different.   

We quickly gathered the customers and we huddled all together under the door frame to the stockroom.  People were hanging onto the frame and their bodies were swaying back and forth. The earth didn’t stop, it kept moving for it seemed like a very long time.  It actually lasted fifteen seconds but it was the longest fifteen seconds that one can experience. When the building stopped shaking, we immediately checked to make sure everyone was ok.

No injuries in the store

Thank goodness no one was injured.  Nordstrom store management asked everyone to stay in the building for their safety.  The electricity was cut off, so we could not see the damage to the store and we were unable to communicate with anyone outside the store. In 1989, people did not have cell phones or internet access. 

We did not know that a section of the Bay Bridge collapsed and the soft soil of San Francisco’s Marina District gave way, homes were on fire and many buildings had collapsed.

The employees comforted the customers and each other.  We cleaned up the sales floor, but could not see what had occurred in the stockroom since it was pitch black.  Nordstrom management did their best to try to inform us what was happening outside the store. 

Better safe than sorry 

At approximately 9:00 pm, we were given the green light to exit the store with caution.  Without electricity and with only a flashlight that was provided by the store, the streets of San Francisco were dark.  Many employees utilized public transportation to get to and from work, so we worked together to get everyone home safely.  The employees who drove into work that day were generous to drive others home.  

I returned to work the next day to help clean up the store.   As one would imagine, after a 6.9 earthquake, the stockroom was in a disarray.  Shoes were scattered all over the floor and at one section of the stockroom, the rack had been pulled out from the wall and the sheet rock had separated from the building. A majority of the employees came together to help get the store ready to reopen. The store was closed for a couple of days to ensure everyone’s safety and to make repairs.

This was an experience that will never be forgotten. Unfortunately, 64 lives were taken that day and many were injured.  We were very grateful that we were safely guarded inside the walls of the Nordstrom San Francisco Center.

Wow,thank you Martha for this incredible account of being there first hand. I was quite fortunate in escaping the Loma Prieta Earthquake in 1989. It was a day that holds on to me even today…



…just sharing my story and tips from my footwear career. 

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People of the Opening of Nordstrom Arden Fair – Blog #57

People of the Opening of Nordstrom Arden Fair

In Blog #56 I talked about  what it means to be a “Shoe Dog.”  In this blog I want to talk about some of the people of the opening of Nordstrom Arden Fair.


Steve was the Buyer/Manager for Women’s Shoes. This particular floor had a combined Women’s /Salon shoes mix. He was an experienced Nordstrom Buyer and he was great to work with. Everything was really organized for the opening. Since I had worked in Joyce/Selby and Naturalizer store before I was familiar with the product. Nordstrom was on a much larger scale though.


Ray J. as everyone called him. He was the General manager of Northern California. What a wonderful personality he had, It reminded me of Jimmy Stewart. Just a good down to earth person who was very warm. Ray came to visit the store and gave me a great big handshake and a  “How you doing”. When he talked at our store meeting it was a good feeling, I really liked him and my feelings for Nordstrom were growing stronger.


John came down from Seattle, he was in charge of the shoe division. He had a presence about him. probably because he used to play football at the University of Washington so he was a large man. John was fit and had a very warm smile. Along with his stature he had a very commanding voice too. A few years later John would eventually become the very first non-family member to run the company.


Ed was the nicest guy you could ever meet. He is caring towards others and just an all around good human being. And he always had interesting stories to tell from his past working as an announcer for the SF Giants to people he just “knew”. He knew so many interesting people. So Ed was the Buyer for Men’s shoes and had a great team. His stockroom was always neat and ran a good ship. With his wealth of connections he always had intersting events in his department too. Also really easy going. I liked him as soon as I met him and we still occssionally chat to this day.

Mr Bruce Nordstrom

He was the grandson of John W Nordstrom. He was  Blake Nordstrom’s father as well. At the age of 9, Bruce Nordstrom began his career at Nordstrom working the stockroom and sales floor of the downtown Seattle store, making 25 cents an hour. Mr Bruce was very warm and it was nice seeing him again.

The  people of the Opening of Arden Fair were amazing representatives of Nordstrom. I got to know Ed pretty well working in the same store but watching Ray & John rise in the company and the impact  they left was inspiring 


…just sharing my story and tips from my footwear career. 

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What it Means to be a Shoe Dog – Blog #56

What it Means to be a Shoe Dog

Blog #49 I talked about opening the Arden Fair store and meeting Mr. Elmer. In this blog I want to talk about some of the “Shoe Dogs” that I opened the store with and what it means to be a “Shoe Dog”


Suave, Funny, handsome and fit. What a great combination for a shoe dog. Alan could sell ice to eskimos. He just had a wit about him that made you shake your head and laugh at the same time. Alan was super confident in himself and had a swagger. He was fun to work with. He was a hard worker in the stockroom and would come out and immediately change gears to Sales mode. The customers loved him. We would go out for beers after work sometimes and he was fun to hang out with too. We laughed so hard my jaw would hurt the next day.


Russell was a sharp dresser. He was smooth and had lots of confidence in himself. Russell was dating one of the prettiest woman in the store and she had an amazing personality. She was super friendly, smart and had a great smile. They complimented each other. Russell wouldn’t walk on the floor, he would glide. He talked very quietly  and when he smiled it was like looking at Billy Dee Williams. He was a great salesman as you could imagine and didn’t really let things bother him too much. We had great conversations as he was really funny too.


Scott was an outdoorsy kind of guy. Put him in Flannel and some jeans and he was happy. Of course on the sales floor he’d sport a nice suit. He had the gift of gab, storytelling was his forte. I loved the conversations we had about sports or hiking or life in general. Scott was a great conversationalist and he was genuine. This was his hook with the customers. The boy next door. Someone you could trust. He was great with the customers and was a definite asset to the team. Scott had a good work ethic and you could always count on him.I really enjoyed working with Scott.


49er fan true and true. He owned his own shoe store in a previous life and was super knowledgeable about footwear. He was great with the customers and was usually in a great mood. in fact kinda jolly. Except when the 49ers lost. OMG…what a transformation that would take place. it was almost comical as he was pretty expressive. There was no hiding his disgust when they lost. His whole day was shot and hard as I tried to cheer him up, it didn’t work…Of course the Raider fan in me kind of chuckled inside when this happened but I tried my best to be good and keep the peace on the floor, but man would he get pissed! lol

Shoe Dogs

Those were just a few examples of Shoe Dogs I opened the store with. But what is a “Shoe Dog”? 

Phil Knight is probably the most famous “Shoe Dog” of all time. So much so he wrote a book about it called “Shoe Dog”.

The term “Shoe Dog” is an industry slang name given to a veteran of the footwear industry. Someone who has dedicated their life to selling shoes is sometimes referred to as “an old Shoe Dog”

 “Shoe Dog” is used with both reverence and respect. A Shoe Dog is an industry veteran who has lived the business and made a lasting contribution through one or more jobs. Shoe Dogs love product and love the gritty details of the business. A sales rep who becomes a product developer and then a sales manager, can be a Shoe Dog. 

Footwear insights named the 50 all time greatest Shoe Dogs including my friend David Kahn from Birkenstocks:

According to Anthony Chiappetta 4th generation from, “it’s about having the eye to spot a trend, a great fitting product, when to hold em and when to fold em. Being a Shoe Dog is about finding good product and when to chase”. 

So there are many thoughts about being a Shoe Dog out there but one thing is certain, we are a breed apart most other people. Some of the nicest people I’ve ever met have been shoe dogs, also the craziest… lol

There were a lot of other characters on the floor too, the typical romance type things which led to affairs and the usual drama that would follow. All in all, it was a pretty good  group of people and Steve was great to work with. He was a family man and every so often we would all get together with his family at his home. He was a good man and had a great heart. 


…just sharing my story and tips from my footwear career. 

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Opening of Nordstrom Arden Fair – Blog #55

Opening of Nordstrom Arden Fair

In Blog #54  I talked about the interview at Nordstrom Arden Fair. In this blog I want to talk about the Opening of  Nordstrom Arden Fair.

The store was getting cases upon cases of shoes. First we had to construct all the shelving in the back stock room. After the shelves were secure we could start running stock. Steve made paper signs to let us know what should be coming in for the opening to allow room. The display fixtures had to be set up as well. It was pretty cool to see everything brand new. It was a lot of work and a full 8 hours a day for about a month to completely set up the store. 

Steve had a lot of the Reps from our brands give seminars on their shoes and the special qualities they each had. It was cool to get to know the reps from the brands. Getting to know the team was fun too, there were definitely a lot of “characters”.

A little background of Mr Elmer:

In 1928, John W. Nordstrom retired and sold his shares of Wallin & Nordstrom to his two eldest sons, Everett and Elmer. In 1929, Carl Wallin also retired and sold his shares to them. 1930 marked the change of name to Nordstrom. In 1933, the third son Lloyd joined. They ran the business as co-presidents.

The three brothers focused on good value and quality, coupled with customer service, and by the 1960s, had the largest independent shoe store chain in the US, and the largest store in the country in downtown Seattle.In 1963, they bought Best Apparel, a Seattle-based women’s clothing store, followed by a Portland, Oregon fashion retail store in 1966. They now offered shoes and clothing for all the family under the new name, Nordstrom Best.

In 1968, all three brothers retired, and the next generation took over – Everett’s son, Bruce Nordstrom; Elmer’s sons, James and John; Lloyd’s son-in-law, Jack McMillan, along with family friend Bob Bender.

So he’s sitting in the chair in front of the shoe team telling us a story of how his brother was waiting on a customer in one of their first stores. His brother was lacing up a pair of women boots and was on his knees finishing them up. the lady stands up and because she had a long dress his brother disappeared. He thought that was so funny even after all those years.

Opening Day

he Opening of  Nordstrom Arden Fair. was amazing.  As the gates to the store were rising people started clapping. It was such a rush to experience. We were so busy the first day.

Later on in the week we had a store meeting in the morning and Jim Nordstrom announced me as the Stores first All-Star. An all-star is nominated each month usually for giving someone great service. the recipient receives a 33% discount for a year, Special Business cards and an All start lapel pin. The store takes a professional picture to place in customer service too.

It was a great honor.


…just sharing my story and tips from my footwear career. 

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The Interview at Nordstrom Arden Fair – Blog #54

The Interview at Nordstrom Arden Fair

In Blog #53 I talked about about Life changing Hard decisions to make. In this blog I want to talk about the interview at Arden Fair.

I was supposed to meet with the Buyer whose name was Steve. He was the type of guy that you felt you knew already. Very warm and super friendly. After meeting him, I liked him immediately. “ So what makes you want to open up a store in Sacramento?” He asked. my immediate answer  was starting a family Loved the company and wanted to get into management at some point. “ The atmosphere in Sacramento is more conducive to raise a family” I said. “That it is” he agreed. Let me introduce you to Rob our Merchandise Manager.


A few minutes go by  then this big guy comes up to me and gives me a big handshake, “ I’m Rob” he says. He starts talking about retail 101 and how important it is to be successful. The longer he talks the faster he talks. It was amazing, lol. I liked him right away.

Didn’t know what it was about this guy, but I wanted to learn from him. We talked for awhile then they asked me if I wanted to meet the store Manager who was nearby. 

“Mike, this is Jim Nordstrom”. I thought I was hearing things, a Nordstrom was going to be the Store Manager. Wow! He was very soft spoken but also very confident in himself. he was also easy to like.  I was hoping I wouldn’t like it for some reason…

I told Diane, “Martha’s been so good to me”. The fact was I could probably buy a house here at some point but in the Bay Area it would be awhile, so I decided to do it. Plus it would be a neat to experience open a new store.

Arden Fair was scheduled to open in October and it was middle of August, so I had  to see how fast I could transfer over. It was going to be tough telling Martha and Michael what I wanted to do.

San Francisco

The next day, I got back to the store and asked Martha if I could talk to her. I could sense she knew what I was going to say because she was super intuitive. Especially when it came to her people. Thats what made her so good. “So how was Arden Fair?” she asked. I told her I liked the area and thought it would be a good opportunity for my family to eventually buy a home out there. She understood.

The Counter offer

“You know, Michael and I would love for you to be an Asst. Here”. That was such a compliment coming from her.  I told her it was purely a move to improve our way of life. She understood. 

People like Martha come into your life for a reason. She made me realize the importance of being organized, thoughtful and having a great team. I have carried this with me my entire career. It’s important to let people like Martha know how much they mean to you as it’s the biggest compliment a mentor could get.

Fast forward to 2020

Recently, I had the good fortune to re-connect with her after 30 years. When she called me, I felt like a star struck fan meeting their idol for the first time. We had a great conversation and it was nice to catch up with her. After the initial how are you’s I told her how much she meant to me and I could tell she appreciated it. She had kind words for me too, so it was something that really made my day.

Thank you Martha, I appreciate you…


…just sharing my story and tips from my footwear career. 

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Why you Should Keep your Options Open – Blog #29

why you should keep your options open

So, in Blog #28 I talked about focusing on your Job and avoid Distractions. In this blog I want to talk about why you should keep your options open.

So Nordstrom was the place to be if you were in shoes. Word on the street was a good salesperson could make twice the amount a shoe store manager was making. Since I had 6 years under my belt at this point I decided to go over to the Nordstrom store in the Hillsdale Mall where I worked at Joyce Selby and talk to the manager there.

I must have been somewhat delusional but I thought being a store manager would be something they would jump all over. It was exactly the opposite. I meet this guy named Eric and he’s the “Buyer/Manager” of the department. I guess at Nordstrom their Buyers were in most of the departments and they also managed the sales people.

Crazy interview

This guy was running all over the place and I’m trying to keep up with him as we are talking. He tells me to come back the next day so we can sit down and talk. The next day comes and he’s not there, so I leave him a message. After a few days I follow up with him, “Oh yeah, sorry, I was off, I must have forgot”. Come over tomorrow at 2 and we can chat. So 2:00 comes before you know it and I go over to the department and it’s like the ground hog day movie, chasing him around again. He said he was interested in putting me on as a salesman but he would have to get back to me.

This went on for several weeks and finally I hit the F%@# it level. Seriously? The place to be… didn’t seem all that, at least for me. Little did I know that Nordstrom would one day change my whole life and my career.

Naturalizer owner

I was having lunch with my favorite rep at the time, Ray and he informs me of this independent owner that he knows that was looking for a store manager for his Los Altos location. I trusted Ray so I gave “Jim” a call. He was a great guy to talk to on the phone and we set something up for my next day off.

Why you should Always keep your options open

You never know what will happen. This applies to future options as well. Things change and so do circumstances.


…just sharing my story and tips from my footwear career. 

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