Retail Project Part 1, Nordstrom BP Shoes

I’ve been dying to do this project for what seems like ages – and last Sunday, Pam and I were finally able to embark on our adventure.

As you all know, I’ve been fascinated with American consumerism for quite some time – I’m always trying to dig into why it’s so ingrained in our culture and why it’s such a part of who I am. Consuming is very much a part of how I think – even when I try to strictly control what I purchase and from where (see my Shopping Small series), and even when I’m trying to downsize on clutter.  While I have immense satisfaction from shopping small, there are still things I don’t understand about other types of shopping experiences.

I’m super grateful that Pam wanted to do this with me! We had such an awesome day!

The analysis will be broken into a few different posts. Today’s begins with the intro and Nordstrom BP Shoes.

The Mission

Two friends from different economic situations spend a day in a variety of retail scenarios – ranging from designer boutiques in department stores, to a lower end department store, to a several of Seattle boutiques – in order to evaluate the different experiences.  What is the value of the higher end experiences? How does the lower end department store compare? How do boutiques measure up? Which experience is most satisfying and does the experience match the cost?

  • High End Department Store: Nordstrom
  • Low End Department Store: Macy’s
  • Boutiques: Endless Knot, Sassafras, Market Street Shoes and Horseshoe (Sadly, we ran out of time and were unable to make it to Ballard, so we did not make it to Market Street Shoes or Horseshoe.)

We each had a very specific item in mind. Pam was looking for fit and flare day dresses with pockets, preferably mini or easy to hem. I was in need of a pair of walkable, rain-resistant, brown booties that could work with both dresses and jeans.


We planned our strategy over tea at the Starbucks across the street from Nordstrom.  We would start at the ground floor in BP Shoes, then work our way up to Salon Shoes, and then dresses in the Designer Boutiques.

Prior to our excursion, my experience shopping at Nordstrom included BP Shoes and Nordstrom Rack for myself, and the men’s department when shopping for gifts for CJ. I was excited to check out Salon Shoes and see what the designer boutiques had to offer.

BP Shoes

Grade: A

When we first ventured into the shoe department, it didn’t seem promising as we were paired with a salesperson who was clearly uninterested in helping us. Unfortunately, it was for a good reason – he ended up going home sick.  The next person we were paired with, Mark A, was one of the best shoe sales people I’ve ever encountered – and I’m saying this as someone who used to sell shoes! He was personable, friendly, and easily chatted with both of us  – and he had my style and fit pegged just by assessing the three styles I showed interest in.

The boot I initially wanted, Born Adler, was out of stock in my size.


Isn’t it pretty?

Mark disappeared to the back and came back with about twelve different styles for me to try, mostly based on the criteria I had asked for. He even went upstairs to Salon Shoes to grab a pair he thought I might like.  Pam rescued me by immediately ruling out shoes that did not fit the exact needs – “No way! That heel is too high!” – no matter how pretty and tempting they were.

This is the bootie I liked the best for fit and aesthetics:

Pikolinos Andorra Bootie


Or for those of you who prefer Amazon:

As a “bonus”, Mark also found a pair of knee – high boots that happened to fit me like a dream and were also ~gasp~ on sale.

Born Poly Boots


I found myself unable to justify turning these boots down as I rarely ever find a pair that can zip up over my calf and are also able to stand up to the amount of walking I do in shitty weather.

Note the bolded phrase. I actually mean I was “unable” to turn the boots down. In the past, when I’ve worn through one pair of brown boots, I’ve spent weeks searching for a boot that fits my needs – weeks of spending my limited free time trying shoes on or scouring reviews on Zappos or Amazon.  To me, this absolutely justified the purchase – especially considering my current brown boots are getting a bit worn down and manky.

Way to go, Mark!

We were just getting started so I didn’t want to commit myself to shoes right away.  We had Mark put both pairs on hold for us so we could venture into Salon Shoes…

(SPOILER ALERT: I purchased both pairs. Truthfully, the only thing that prevented this experience from receiving an A+ in my book was that the woman who tried to ring us up was having a horrible time with the POS system and she could not locate my rewards account. After a painfully long time of watching her struggle with it, I told her not to worry about it – I’d get my rewards straightened out with CS later.)

…to be continued…

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