Bruce Nordstrom, Who Helped Lead His Family’s Retail Empire, Dies at 90

Bruce Nordstrom, who along with three other members of the Nordstrom family transformed a small chain of Pacific Northwest shoe stores into an international fashion retail giant with more than 150 locations worldwide, died on Saturday at his home in Seattle. He was 90.

His death was confirmed by a company spokeswoman.

As a grandson of John W. Nordstrom, the company’s Swedish immigrant founder, Mr. Nordstrom was part of the third generation of the family to run the company jointly, sharing power and making decisions by consensus, an unusual but successful Nordstrom tradition that continues to this day.

He shared leadership with his cousins John N. Nordstrom and Jim Nordstrom, who were brothers, and Jack McMillan, who was married to their cousin Loyal Nordstrom.

Management by committee is considered a business school formula for disaster, but the Nordstrom family, starting with Bruce’s father, Everett, and Everett’s brothers Elmer and Lloyd, decided that they could be more effective as co-leaders of the company, which was founded in 1901 in Seattle.

When Lloyd Nordstrom called 30-year-old Bruce into his office in 1963 and named him president of the company, the younger Mr. Nordstrom accepted the post but soon decided that he would emulate his father’s generation and share leadership with his three relatives.

“Obviously, the arrangement worked out great,” Bruce Nordstrom wrote in a 2007 autobiography, “Leave It Better Than You Found It.” “It was marvelous for them and it was marvelous for me because it felt like a weight had been taken off my shoulders.”

Back to top button