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Coaching from two Toms made the difference – Blog #151

Coaching from two Toms made the difference

Blog #150  I talked about the Salon Reps that helped in Valley Fair. In this blog I want to talk about why Coaching from two Toms made the difference.


Tom my Merchandising Coach


Tom my Merchandiser comes in as promised later in the week. He told me to be prepared to “Do the Deal”. Being coached from Rob previously, I knew exactly what this meant. We would do a stock walk, then go through the PO book. I would write everything out on a legal pad and we would check it the next time he came in, Rob 101. Tom wasn’t as loud as Rob though, so it was a little easier to handle. We went into great detail on the stock walk.


Stock walk


Tom really took the time to stop at each Salon brand and give his take on how he thought  we would improve the business. In some brands or styles we would write wide’s but not narrows and others the opposite. Some style would be just 9 pair runs to get in and out real quick. We laid out a pretty good game plan of how to approach this. I felt really good about it. He suggested the closeout Stuarts too. This ended up being huge for the store.


Po Book


Next we went PO by PO on what our flow looked like. He stressed that I needed to visualize how my floor would look each month based on the flow of merch we had coming in. He would be very vocal on brands he didn’t like either. He’d have a certain chuckle about it when we looked at those brands too, which made me laugh. He was real big on the 80/20 rule. I was too, so we were aligned on this one.


80/20 doesn’t just mean 20% of your inventory usually makes up 80% of your volume. While true, Tom would break it down by size. “Do you need this many sixes?”, Chuckle…”I’d put those into more size 8’s” chuckle, chuckle. It was intense but in a good way. Worn out more like it. I learned a ton though and it brought back some of the Rob things I learned earlier. I was in survival mode so long that it was nice to actually buy this way again.


Tom My Clarks Coach


The other Tom was our Clarks rep. He was very well known in Northern California. I met him in Arden Fair as an Asst. and worked with him as a buyer in Palo Alto. He was great to work with. In this store we had the “Jet” factor. He loved selling the “Sunbeat” so I needed to make sure he never missed a size. Our rep Tom was great at helping me figure out the flow of reorders to achieve this. New colors were also important so we always made sure we had first delivery when they were available.


Double Lattes were my thing. Probably drank too many of them, in fact at one point I developed an Ulcer because of it. So I cut back. Tom would always arrive with a double latte, then we’d get to work. It would take a few hours to do the buys/re-orders and then we’d head out to lunch. When you think of a great partner, Tom always comes to my mind. I’ve known him for years and he’s been Mr. Consistency. Always positive, great with the team and thoughtful. We’ve developed a great friendship over the years and worked together at Zappos later too.


Coaching from two Toms made a Difference


My point in this blog was that Coaching from two Toms made the difference. One from my employer and the other as a vendor partner. Both are important and takes a certain amount of planning and thoughtfulness to go along with it. You have to develop both to bs successful.


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

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Salon Reps that helped in Valley Fair – Blog #150

Salon Reps that helped in Valley Fair

Blog #149  I talked about my new Merchandiser and Store Manager. In this blog I want to talk about the Salon Reps that helped in Valley Fair.




Dan was our Cole Haan Rep. His nickname by the salespeople was “Dan the Cole Haan Man”. He was very personable, patient and was a great partner for me in my business. Our Cole Haan business was good but I felt it could be even better. I explained to Dan I wanted to focus on 3-5 key salon brands and make them huge. Most of the time when you say that to a rep $ signs arrive too. Dan was different though, he looked at the long term relationship and helped me in keeping in stock with the big items.


My favorite shoe, the “Dunbar” was still a big seller, so we added some colors and extended the sizes to 11. We took the top 3-4 colors and had a flow of re-orders that would hit the floor in a timely manner. There were a few other items that were big too and we added that to the mix of “never out” styles. All in all Dan really helped drive our business in the right way. I really appreciated his help and that’s probably why we are still friends today. We did business at Zappos years later as well.




Tom was our Ferragamo rep. There were some basics they had that sold day in and day out. Like Cole Haan we established a never out in those styles. Daryl had the market on this brand though so since this store was a little more fashion forward, I decided to have some fun with the brand. Tom was great a picking out the styles we could sell and not get stuck with.


I wanted a flow of “in & out” styles to establish the fashion trends for this brand and pretty much sell out. Our top Pacesetters were great at giving their input too on what they thought they could sell. This was one of the great benefits of having the buyers in the stores. Years later at Zappos Tom would be at Cole Haan and it was like a reunion. He’s one of the great vendors out there.




I recognized Kent from the Palo Alto store. He’s a very sophisticated gentleman. He was great to work with. With Stuart Weitzman I wanted to grow the business in 3 different ways. I wanted to take advantage of their stock program and incorporate that with my “never out plan” as the first step. Second I wanted to have fun in bringing in a flow of “make-up” styles that would be unique to Valley Fair. Third I wanted to take advantage of some close out opportunities for Half Yearly.


Kent was great at helping me figure all this out. The thing with the Salon business is your open to buy can get gobbled up quite fast with the higher price points so you have to get creative sometimes. Stuart Weitzman had extended sizes too so it made it even more challenging.


Team effort


Tom was great at helping me figure this out too. We took some styles and had the depth in sizes and others were just in & out. Laura was the Stuart pro so she helped me figure out the make up buys to inject some fashion on the floor each month.


These three brands started having huge increases as a result of these three awesome reps. There were several other Salon reps that helped in Valley Fair, but these three had the best results. I have great relationships with all three today and they helped me tremendously at Zappos too. Goes to show you if you treat people well it comes back to you too.


Having great relationships with you reps are so important. If you treat them poorly they are less likely to help you when you need it. This can come in the way of getting you more product, moving out slow sellers or improving terms when needed. I feel strongly that people make the difference. It’s not always just your employees either. Reps make the difference too.


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

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New Merchandiser and Store Manager – Blog #149

New Merchandiser and Store Manager

Blog #148  I talked about Valley Fair and 5 Corporate Pacesetters. In this blog I want to talk about my new Merchandiser and Store Manager.




The first day I was at Valley Fair, the Store Manager came down. In the morning to meet me. She was extremely friendly and had a warmth to her I really liked. She would be the fifth different Nordstrom Store Manager for me now in my career. I felt really welcomed by her energetic way and felt really motivated to getting to work.




Tom came in for a brief welcome and was going to come back for a more in depth stock walk. We walked the Salon floor first and he gave me some great pointers on how to run a successful Salon business. As I said earlier The Eastbay buyers nicknamed Tom “Salon Tom” when we were both buyers for Rob. He was the Salon Buyer in Walnut Creek and he was always getting cash call for his business during the recognition meetings. I had a good basic start for the Salon area now. He would go in more detail later in the week.




After Tom left I was in a great mood. First meeting Karen and now Tom, they were both so positive. I thought I’d do a stock walk myself first with the First Asst. Felicia. Felicia was a very vibrant and positive person. She was hard not to like. She had a great sense of humor and laughed a lot. I liked her right away. They had a lot of good best practices in place so at least that was a positive.


Joe had pretty much everything dialed so to have better business I had to figure out where the weak points were. We had 5 corporate Pacesetters so maybe focusing on the others while the top five did their thing was one way to go. I thought also to focus on Salon would be the other opportunity since Joe was such a Dept. 36 maven.


Biggest Return I’ve ever seen


After a few days of looking at the stock and the PO’s I decided to just watch the floor all day to get a sense of the custom

er base. Not long after we opened a customer came up to me and asked if I was the manager. She went on to say her mother had just passed away and she had some shoes in her closet that were never worn but had the Nordstrom sticker still on the box. Nordstrom was very good about taking care of the customer so I told her we would take care of her.


Right after I told her that she whips out a walkie talkie and in a very aggressive tone says “Bring em in Herb, he said yes”. I was thinking “WTF?” Herb shows up a minute later with a hand truck with four 18 pair cases full of shoes. I must have stood there with my mouth wide open. I could hear Daryl in the back of my mind saying “O’boy”. We took a look at each case and they were shoes probably 5-10 years old, all with Nordstrom stickers on the box.


Shoe collector


“My mother would buy shoes and just put them in the closet and not wear them.” So I’m looking at a 72 pair return and All the shoes were paid for at full price. I decided to call Karen for advice on how to price the return since they were so old. She told me since there wasn’t a receipt we would have to go by the shanks on the sole. At Nordstrom we used to write the price, store number and employee number on the bottom of the soles where the shank would be. This was going to be a $5,000 return so our day was toast.


The customer was really grateful and I told her I knew it must be hard for her to do this so we would make it as easy as possible for her. On the inside I was boiling though. Who does this? Tom called me when we were showing a negative number. “What Happened?” He was good at lifting my spirits up. Makes for a good story though as I’ve re-told this story quite a few times.


Good news


The good news was, I liked my new Merchandiser and Store Manager and the team was great. Joe had the department running pretty good so that would be the biggest challenge was figuring out how to beat his numbers…


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

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Valley Fair and 5 Corporate Pacesetters – Blog #148

Valley Fair and 5 Corporate Pacesetters

Blog #147  I talked about Our Dog Willie the Collie.. In this blog I want to talk about Valley Fair and 5 Corporate Pacesetters


Valley Fair


Valley Fair had 5 Pacesetters in the top 10 corporately. There were other Pacesetters too but this group was just amazing. Each had their own style too which made it even more incredible. 3 were on the Salon Floor and two were in Women’s shoes. With this floor you could easily cross over too depending on what the customer was looking for. The store had great traffic flow and the customers weren’t as tailored as the Palo Alto floor.


Mike (“Jet”)


His nickname was Jet and it suited him. Jet was the king of dept. 36. He would usually be doubled up. “Jet” can you take another? “You bet Chief” was always the answer.  When it got busy in Women’s shoes you needed a guy like Mike to be there. It didn’t matter how big the sale would be, he took it. Daniel Green Dormie, “You bet Chief”. Keds champion, “You bet Chief”.


Mike was a buyer previously and it helped to have his knowledge on the floor too. I absolutely loved working with him. Mike was a top 5 corporate Pacesetter and he did it the hard way, all Women’s shoes. He was always in a good mood, unless another of the top Pacesetters pissed him off.




I’ve never met another person like James in all my years in Footwear. This guy was good. He was funny, professional and somewhat intimidating. His piercing eyes could go right through you and in the next moment you’d be joking around. James would crack me up most of the time. If the floor was quiet he would be acting like a baseball pitcher trying to call the pitch to the catcher, shaking a few off then the wind up. At first I was wondering “what the hell is James doing?”. Or he would do his bowling routine. He had a few of them and always ended in some laughter.


I grew to like James and respected his talent. He was in the top 5 corporately and mostly sold Salon shoes. But he could sell like there was no tomorrow. Very charming and dressed impeccably. Since I was a Raider fan we talked football quite often with each other because he was too. Rules and floor etiquette was a big thing for James and he had peripheral vision better that the floor watchers sometimes. Ok most of the time…I got it, I’d tell him, you focus on the customers  I’ll take care of the guys leaving wood out.




Laura had an amazing following. This is why she too was in the corporate 5. Yes that makes three out 5 that were on this floor. 100 Nordstrom stores too. It was quite common to see Laura go up to the register with 4 boxes of Salon shoes. “We need more Stuarts” she’d say. I looked to her when I was doing the buy on what she wanted to see more of. The reps would show me the shoes upstairs in my office area and she’d often come up if it was a Salon brand.


This was super valuable to me and I appreciated her input. She was a very strong personality. No one messed with Laura because she didn’t back down to anyone. Super confident in herself which made her so good. We also had some really nice moments together on personal matters. I really liked her and was glad she was around.




Gentle giant. He was taller than me and also dressed very well. I bet he was somewhere around 6 or 7 corporately but had been in the top 5 previously. His forte was also the Salon world and he was really good at it. Confidence was also his strong suit and between him, James and Laura we had some pretty strong personalities in play here. I loved talking to Mostafa, he was interesting to talk to and we got along great.


We had a contest one time and I promised the winner could go with me to the Vegas Shoe show which at the time was WSA. Mostafa was the winner and we decided to stay at the Luxor which seemed cool at first but we ended up getting a slanted room so for two tall guys was challenging. We had such a great time together and he helped me decide what Salon shoes to bring on. It was especially exciting when some of the styles the team picked out came in. They felt ownership which was awesome.




Jimmy was an old shoe dog. He wasn’t that old age wise, just had sold shoes for a while. He was corporate top 10 sitting right under the 10 spot. He seemed grouchy all the time but wasn’t. He was great to talk to and could be very animated which cracked me up. The customers would often ask for him in the Women’s side as he drew a lot of respect for someone who knew how to fit shoes. He wasn’t flashy, very consistent and a definite asset to the department


Valley Fair and 5 Corporate Pacesetters


So 5 strong personalities to manage. I joked to Tom one day that half of my job was preventing these top tier salespeople from killing each other. The caliber of this team was just amazing. I was often in awe of these 5 but also had to manage them. I treated them like I would want to be treated. With respect and included them in on the buys. We got along very well that way.


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

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Our Dog Willie the Collie – Blog #147

Our Dog Willie the Collie

Blog #146  I talked about My Friend and Nordstrom Buddy Daryl Curley. In this blog I want to talk about Our Dog Willie the Collie.




We had a dog in Sacramento which was our first official family dog. “Sheba” was a black Lab that we rescued. She was about 3 years old and overall she was a pretty good dog. The only thing she did that we were trying to break her of was jumping on the kids. I built her a dog house since she was primarily an outside dog. Our new home had a huge backyard so it was a great environment for her.


Sad News


One day I was at work and Diane calls me frantic. “Mike the dog hung herself.” I was watching the floor at the time and I’m like “What?”. So I got off the floor and she explained the kids were in the backyard playing. Because there were neighbor kids around, they tied her to the dog house with a long lease. Sheba got nervous with all the noise and jumped to her roof then over the fence which didn’t end well. Raced home and took the dog to the Vet. but she was already gone. It was brutal for the family…




I thought I’d get another dog right away to ease the pain. We got a dog from a nearby person who just couldn’t keep up with the dog. It was an Australian Shepard named “Lucky.” This dog was super smart but kept finding a way to get out and run back to the previous owner. After 3 times we gave up. The owner kept the dog. We decided to wait on a dog for a while, then I got transferred to the Bay area.


New House


After we bought our first house we felt it was time. We had a nice backyard and also a sunroom which was enclosed. Decided to start looking. My Grandfather Osterholtz was a Veterinarian and he loved Collies, so I thought we’d start there.


I found a rescue dog named “Willie”, in Santa Rosa. He was 3-4 years old and was an ex-show dog. When we got there the owner gave us all his show awards. Best in show several times and a host of other awards. Two dozen to be exact.


Weird sound


Willie was a beautiful dog. We brought him home and he fit right in. We lost our  backyard though as it was his now. One day I was in the sunroom and I heard this hoarse choking like sound. It was Willie barking at something but it sounded pretty painful.


I called the previous owner and she then told me his vocal chords were “Clipped” for the shows. What? Never heard that before but it was too late Willie was part of our family. It did piss me off that we weren’t told this beforehand.


Sad News again


We enjoyed Willie for the next year then one day I found him laying in the backyard having a hard time breathing. I immediately took him to the Vet. – Our dog Willie the Collie had Kidney failure. We felt so bad for the kids. The Vet.told us he had to be put down. James wanted to be there as the Dr. injected him to hold his paw as he passed. It was the saddest thing I ever saw. I respected James for that  decision. It must have been hard for him to witness.




Once again I felt the best way was to immediately get another dog. This time we were going to get a puppy from a breeder. We found a breeder again in Santa Rosa and met “Burton.” We decided to take him and re-name him “Max.” But that’s another story…


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

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My Friend and Nordstrom Buddy Daryl Curley – Blog #146

My Friend and Nordstrom Buddy Daryl Curley

Blog #145 I talked about my Palo Alto Womens floor recap. In this Blog I want to talk about my Friend and Nordstrom Buddy Daryl Curley.


I transferred from Arden Fair in 1996. We found a house to rent in the Fremont area so I crossed the Dumbarton Bridge every day to get to work. My day  would start out pretty early  because you never knew what day the bridge would bring you. Somedays the traffic was bad and others it was worse.


I’d usually grab a coffee before I got to the store and get there early enough to set the floor. Daryl and I got there about the same time every morning and he’d always greet me the same way. Good Morning MISTER Normart. He’d always have a melody to his greeting too. We’d talk to each other as we’d watch the floor each day and bounce ideas off each other throughout the day.




We’d go to lunch frequently together depending on whether or not there was a vendor in the store or a team function that day. We would usually go to a few different spots, Max’s Opera House and they crafted amazing Pastrami Sandwiches. There was also a restaurant behind the store that made incredible martinis (which was after work) and also a nice lunch menu. 


We loved going to McDonalds when they had the Monopoly contest. Both of us were like little kids trying to complete our boards and were super competitive with each other. Daryl and I would would laugh and just have a great time together. It wasn’t real close to the store either so we could enjoy the nice weather as we walked over.


Adult Beverages


As things started getting more stressful in our jobs due to business or lack there of, Daryl would stroll casually near my side of the floor and say MISTER Normart, I think an “Adult Beverage” is in order. We would go to the Martini place and talk business, Life, strategies, whatever…


Daryl would ask me what my strategy was for setting expectations and such. How to maximize hot items and so forth. I would bounce my ideas off him and take his advice on whether or not it would work. We both learned from each other which was great. He also had a great sense of style, especially his great ties.


Sometimes it would be a two Martini day depending on what was going on. I had a commute so I timed it when traffic wasn’t so brutal for my trip back. On one memorable night we were walking back to the store and we ran into the largest skunk I’ve ever seen. It was the size of a medium size dog. “If that thing sprays us, we’ll never get the stink off” Daryl said with a chuckle. We backed away very slowly then ran towards the store but away from the skunk. Was that a real skunk or the martinis? 




Daryl was an avid golfer so my weekends were spent with my family mostly and we would catch up every Monday on what each of our weekends entailed. He was usually in good spirits which helped me with all the stresses of tough business. Occasionally we would do things together like a football game (Blog 128) or dinner as well. 


Every now and then we would get together over at his place for drinks and fun. This is when I got to know his wife Sue Ann a bit better. She is warm, loving and really interesting to talk to. I always enjoyed our conversations and for her to put up with us shoe dogs, I might add patient as well.


Enjoyed success together


I’m glad I got to see our departments enjoy success together too. Winning is fun and doing it with a buddy is even better. He developed a really great Ferragamo business and we developed our team and our mix to enjoy a really great increase YOY. It was nice to see him laugh and I’m sure he felt the same way. 


Then I got transferred again to Valley Fair this time. The store was going through a re-model so business was tough again and more stress put onto my plate. I was so self absorbed, I fell out of touch with Daryl except the weekly phone calls we made to each other. When I left Nordstrom and moved to Target we rarely spoke. Even today I feel incredibly guilty about this. 


Target for 3 years then on to Zappos going on 16+ years. One of us reached out to the other, in fact it may have been Sue Ann. We talked about getting together  or staying in touch.


My Regrets


When I heard the news my Friend and Nordstrom buddy Daryl Curley had passed away in July 2017, I felt sadness over take me. How could I let such a beautiful friendship be taken for granted. I do these Blogs to help others with my experiences in business and life.

This blog #146 is about friendship and watering the friendship often so it keeps growing. Don’t neglect a friendship, we aren’t guaranteed anything in life.

If only. Those must be the two saddest words in the world.” 

– Mercedes  Lackeyo


If only I kept in touch…


Miss you…


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

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Palo Alto Womens floor recap Blog #145

Palo Alto Womens floor recap

Blog #144  I talked about How great business cures all woes. In this blog I want to talk about my Palo Alto womens floor recap


Leave it better than you found it. Blake Nordstrom told me that once. When I came to Palo Alto it was in bad shape. Tow Pacesetters on the floor and one who just started. Asst’s were either beaten down from the bad business or really green. Mix wasn’t right and where it was it was too light.  I learned a hard lesson at first thinking it was my “Expertise in buying” that would turn it around. I was so wrong. When multiple things are wrong it takes multiple solutions. My ego got into the way at first.




By sharing with each other our problems we came up with great solutions that worked for both of us. Even though we were in different departments the goals were the same. We developed a great friendship too which was the bonus. With both of us being Buyer/Managers we spoke the same language. We got each other. We also had a good release after work talking it out. I miss my friend Daryl…




Larry was a good move on my part. He was ambitious, personable and really smart. It was a serendipitous meeting we had in the back room that day. But sometimes that’s what it takes. With me focusing on buying and him focusing on the managing the department, we made a great team. We communicated very well too, always on the same page.




She was tough, not going to lie. But it taught me the importance of high expectations. But there was the other side too, the fun, personable side which I grew to like. It was a painful lesson for me which humbled me. I needed it though, because I grew as a buyer  and a leader tenfold. I will always be grateful for this time and lesson.


Palo Alto Womens floor recap


So many great people and customers. Once I got the solution it was really fun. Meeting Bruce Munro in the stockroom and then having his wonderful sister Mollie come out later, was memorable. The people of the store were amazing too, everyone was really friendly and gave a family type atmosphere. The main thing for me was what I learned. People really do make the difference.




After I told him I was moving on we went over unfinished business on Po’s he needed to review. I left knowing I came clean with everything and had the best year ever in the history of Palo Alto. There was so much more to this Store that wasn’t mentioned in this Palo Alto Women’s floor recap. One thing is certain though, I left it better than I found it…


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

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Great Business Cures All Woes Blog #144

Great Business Cures All Woes Blog #144

Blog #143 I talked about the Valley Fair Opening for combined floor.. In this blog I want to talk about how great Business Cures all Woes.


Daryl was doing a great job developing his Salon business. Most of this was in part for taking advantage of the Ferragamo customer that was prevalent in the Palo Alto area. In all our lunch and dinner talks we both bounced ideas off each other and it help both departments in the long run.


Daryl started having a nice flow of Ferragamo merchandise hit every month and it made a huge difference in his business. I was glad to see some pep in his step, he worked hard to get this business going and was now enjoying the fruits of his labor. His people were happy too, Great business cures all woes.




Daryl and Sue Ann invite me over for drinks the next night so I thought it would be a good opportunity to tell them I was being transferred to Valley Fair. He was dissapointed but glad for me too. I told  them I was going to tell Nora and the team the next day. Probably was an O’boy or two in the conversation and a few laughs as we always did. One thing was for sure, I was going to miss seeing him everyday.


Back at the home front Diane was happy I was moving on too. She knew someone like Tom would be a better fit for me. I was never one for being political so seemed like it would be better. The RMM I had just wanted me to be a yes man and I wasnt that guy…


Dog talk


We had just bought a house with the bonus I made for having a great year. It was a nice but modest home in the Fremont. The schools were great for the kids so we were happy about that. This house had a neat feature I really liked. Instead of a patio it had a sunroom. Basically, It was a fully enclosed Glass room with ceiling fan and nice furnishings. 

The kids wanted a dog really bad and since we now had a backyard it was probably time. I’ll go more into that in the next blog.


For now I just wanted to focus on my next steps and the new position. It’s true what they say Great business cures all woes, for now anyways…


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

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Valley Fair Opening for a Combined floor Blog #143

Valley Fair Opening for a Combined floor

Blog #142 I talked about how Bob and Blake knew how to Motivate . In this blog I want to talk about the Valley Fair Opening for a combined floor.


My friend Joe decided to leave Nordstrom to go run the Macy’s floor in San Francisco. Their floor was huge so it was a great opportunity for him. He really wanted to run the Nordstrom SF floor but that wasn’t happening in the near future. Tom, who I worked with in the East Bay as Buyers gives me a call. He had been promoted to the RMM for the East Bay and wanted me to come over to replace Joe.


Valley Fair


Valley Fair was one of the busiest malls in the area. It had a fashion forward customer base and the Nordstrom floor was a Salon/Women’s shoes combined floor. This would be the next evolution in my career growth I thought. Joe had tremendous success though so I’d be going against big increases. Always better to go against tough business as a rule.


This floor was also one of the biggest buy responsibilities since it was combined. I felt Joe was great in Women’s shoes so maybe the opportunity would be to grow Salon. The floor had some pretty well known salespeople in the company. Mostly because they were all in the top 10 corporately.


The Tom Factor


The other piece was Tom. He was known as “Salon Tom” in Walnut Creek so if I was right about the Salon thing Tom could help me develop it. I did have some background from my sales experience, just not on the buying side yet.  Martha and Michael taught me so much  which will help. There was  also the sales experience on Steves floor since it was also combined.  Daryl was great with introducing me to his reps so I knew some of them already. 


The hard part would be to tell my team and Daryl I was moving on. I think it would be nice to have a RMM like Tom as well, him and Rob were pretty close so there would be more than likely some hint of Rob’s influence there which I’ve missed. Just good old basic retail 101.

My gut was telling me to take it. The Valley Fair opening for a combined floor was very tempting. I called Tom and accepted the position.


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

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Bob and Blake knew how to Motivate Blog #142

Bob and Blake knew how to Motivate

Blog #141 I talked about people that made a difference plus fun stuff as well. In this blog I want to talk about how Bob and Blake knew how to motivate.


Two Peoples names would send shivers down most people’s spines. All you had to say was either Bob Nunn or Blake Nordstrom  were coming in for a visit and the blood pressure would raise immediately. I must admit I was nervous too because no matter how good you were prepared they were smarter…


The questions they would ask sometimes were always thought provoking or sometimes really simple. “Where’s your black polish” Blake was famous for asking people. I asked him why as I said in an earlier blog  and the answer was perfect. If they miss something as simple as black polish you know you need to dig deeper.


Bobs Visit


Bob came in one day to tour the stores and partake in the recognition meeting with Blake. He was semi-retired at this point but was a big figure still in the Nordstrom Universe. I had met with him countless times before and always learned something from him which I liked. He would say something this time that stuck with me and I’ve even passed it on to others.


He came in early as he usually did and we walked the front line. At each table he’d ask me about the brands and how they were doing. We talked about my strategy of Nickels and Sudini and how we grew Munro. We went into the backroom and I reminded him of the visit in Arden Fair and the comment he made about “You can learn a lot about a department by just listening in the stockroom”. I told him I wanted to avoid that this time. We both laughed.


We get back to the floor and he complimented me about the department and our business. I told him it was tough at first and didn’t know if I’d survive it for a while. He looked at me with a very intense look. Then he said “Remember you were put here for a reason…don’t ever let anyone make you forget that…” Mic drop. It was an amazing thing to say. It also lifted me so high, I’ll never forgot those words. I’ve said that to others when they struggle too. It’s a good reminder to do a self-check.


Blakes Visit


I was a little closer to Blake and was looking forward to his visit. Don’t get me wrong I wasn’t comfortable just looking forward to it. Blake was intense too and always asked a question you weren’t expecting. He always had great one liners too that made you think. “Extend yourself” or “People make the difference”. We talked about Bob’s visit and what Bob said to me.


It was a shorter visit than normal but great content. He walked the tables like Bob did and was very complimentary every table. He flashed that signature smile and said “you are killing it, keep up the great work. “

The next day was the recognition meeting. Blake gets up there and talks about how people make the difference again. He went on to say that we need to make sure we are treating our people well.


“I stopped by at the Palo Alto store and if you don’t know Mike Normart like I do, he’s a great merchant. “ What?  Did he just say my name in a recognition meeting? He went on to say “Yeah Mike had his glasses all crooked and was telling me it was hard to turn the store around but they were on the right track”. “Let’s make sure we treat hard workers like Mike well, they make the difference”

 I don’t think he was taking a shot at anyone but just making a point and I was probably the last person he saw before the meeting. Regardless it was pretty cool.


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

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