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John W. Nordstrom

AKA Johan W. Nordstrom

Born: 15-Feb-1871
Birthplace: Alvik Neder Lulea, Sweden
Died: 1-Oct-1963
Location of death: Seattle, WA
Cause of death: Cerebral Hemorrhage
Remains: Buried, Lake View Cemetery, Seattle, WA

Gender: Male
Religion: Lutheran
Race or Ethnicity: White
Occupation: Business

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Founder of Nordstrom

Swedish immigrant John Nordstrom arrived in America in 1887 with the equivalent of a sixth-grade education, speaking no English, and owning little more than the clothes on his back. He worked his way westward as a wagon loader, brickworker, lumberjack, and potato farmer, then made a small fortune -- about $13,000 -- in the Alaska Gold Rush. Settling in Seattle in 1901, he opened a tiny shoe shop with his business partner, Carl Wallin, and within a few years they had bought out a competitor and moved to a better location. In 1923 Nordstrom opened a second shop in Seattle, and in 1928 he officially retired, but remained active in running the company.

In 1961 Nordstrom acquiesced to civil rights protests by hiring two blacks for its sales staff. By Nordstrom's death in 1963 his downtown Seattle flagship location was the nation's largest shoe store, and the eight Nordstrom stores in Washington and Oregon were famous for their "no questions asked" policy of cheerful refunds at the slightest complaint, and paying employees a better-than-average wage. After Nordstrom's death, his three sons expanded the business to include an elaborate selection of upscale clothing and accessories. Still renowned for good customer service, the company is now managed by the fourth generation of Nordstroms, and trades on the New York Stock Exchange under its founder's initials (JWN).

Father: (blacksmith, d. 1879)
Wife: Hilda Carlson Nordstrom (m. May-1900)
Son: Everett Nordstrom (Nordstrom Co-Chairman, b. circa 1902)
Son: Elmer Nordstrom (Nordstrom Co-Chairman, b. circa 1904, d. 1993)
Son: Lloyd Nordstrom (Nordstrom executive, b. circa 1911)

    Nordstrom Founder & President (1901-28)
    Naturalized US Citizen 1887
    Swedish Ancestry

Author of books:
The Immigrant in 1887 (1950)


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