Nordstrom Rack to open first Canadian store north of Toronto, downtown to follow

A Nordstrom Rack store in Miami is shown in a 2017 file photo. Nordstrom is opening the first Canadian location of its discount Rack chain on Thursday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Alan Diaz

Shoppers who love to find luxury brands at bargain prices have a reason to rejoice as Nordstrom opens its first discount Rack store north of the border — with a few Canadian twists.

The 35,000-square-foot store, situated north of Toronto at Vaughan Mills mall, will open on Thursday and is promising savings of up to 70 per cent on apparel, accessories, home, beauty and travel items from 38 of the top 50 brands already sold in its Canadian department stores.

The location is part of the Seattle-based retailer’s plans to roll out as many as 15 Rack stores across the country. It didn’t provide a definitive timeline for the expansion, but its next location in Canada will open in downtown Toronto’s tony Yorkville neighbourhood later this year.

The Canadian Rack stores will be outfitted with a few differences, when compared with their American counterparts.

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Around 30 per cent of their merchandise will come from its full-line Nordstrom stores, compared to 15 per cent in the U.S.

A “robust assortment” of travel gear and swimwear will be offered all year because the company said it has realized “Canadians like to travel.”

It will also group some items by size rather than product because “one of the biggest off-price learnings we have from Canadians is that they like to shop by size and category instead of by brand,” company spokesperson Meliz Andiroglu wrote in an email.

“For example, women’s jeans in our Canadian Rack stores will be merchandised together and by size, so if you’re a size 28, you’ll go to that rack and find an assortment of brands.”

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Among the brands it is promising to stock are Kate Spade New York, Nike, Tory Burch, Steve Madden, Hugo Boss, Ted Baker London, Rebecca Minkoff and Madewell.

Andiroglu declined to provide the percentage of products that will be bought specifically for its Rack stores, but said “we work with many of the top brands that are carried in Nordstrom to sell directly to Nordstrom Rack before other off-price retailers.”

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At least one of those off-price retailers will be creating fierce competition from only a few dozen doors away.

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Last year, Nordstrom Rack’s rival Saks Fifth Avenue moved into Vaughan Mills and the Canadian market with its lower-cost offering Saks Off Fifth, months before Holt Renfrew’s discount chain HR2 closed at the mall.

Neither seems to have Nordstrom Rack worried.

“We like competition,” Andiroglu said. “We think it helps us raise our game and ultimately the customer benefits from more and better options.”

One option customers won’t have yet is ecommerce. The company said it hasn’t rolled out such an offering for Canadians, but Andiroglu said it is “evaluating opportunities to have it up and running alongside our stores.”

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