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Nordstrom's New Concept: A Store That Doesn't Stock Clothes

The Nordstrom Local concept store in West Hollywood, Calif., is set to open on Oct. 3.

It sounds like a bit of a head-scratcher: Department store giant Nordstrom says its new concept store won't actually have any clothing in stock.

Instead, Nordstrom Local will focus on free consultations with personal stylists, who will advise customers and then have the merchandise brought in. People can also get manicures and curbside pickup.

Prospective customers will be able to make appointments "online, over the phone or in-person," the retailer says.

Nordstrom thinks the streamlined experience reflects the way many people want to shop now. The concept store is set to open Oct. 3 in West Hollywood, Calif.

"Shopping today may not always mean going to a store and looking at a vast amount of inventory," Shea Jensen, Nordstrom's senior vice president of customer experience, told The Wall Street Journal. "It can mean trusting an expert to pick out a selection of items."

According to a company statement, customers will enter the store and find personal stylists in a "central meeting space," where they can chat, get fashion advice and have a glass of beer or wine, cold-pressed juice or espresso.

That area is surrounded by eight dressing rooms where they can try on merchandise. The store will have on-site tailoring and alterations and provide for same-day pickup from online orders or same-day delivery.

It will also allow customers to interact with Trunk Club stylists — another Nordstrom service aimed at providing a personalized shopping experience, this time by mailing them a personalized set of clothing.

The retailer says the concept store — which at 3,000 square feet measures just 2 percent of the average size of its mall-anchored retail stores — is designed to be a "neighborhood hub."

It is marketing Nordstrom Local as a time-saving option, at a time when shopping online is often seen as more convenient than entering brick-and-mortar stores.

"We know there are more and more demands on a customer's time and we wanted to offer our best services in a convenient location to meet their shopping needs," Jensen said in a statement. "Finding new ways to engage with customers on their terms is more important to us now than ever."

Other retailers have tried opening smaller stores. Sears has announced a concept store that will focus on appliances and mattresses, CNBC notes, and Target has also experimented with smaller locations.

Nordstrom is seen as a bright spot among retailers, CNBC reports. The company reported last month that second-quarter net sales were 3.5 percent higher than they were a year ago. Online sales also grew by 20 percent.

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