Nordstrom Sells Second-Hand Shoes

Discussion
Mar 02, 2012

Will Nordstrom need to refurbish its image after selling used shoes in its Rack stores? That’s the question now that CNBC has reported that Nordstrom is taking returned and otherwise worn shoes from its department stores and sending them to its outlets for resale.

Buying the shoes labeled "worn and refinished" at the Rack means that consumers will get a deal compared to buying them in a full-line Nordstrom.

"On a perception level, it turns you into a junk store, a second-hand clothing store. And that is something that now calls into question Nordstrom’s reputation as a first-rate, quality high-end type of brand retailer," Robert Frankel, a branding expert, told CNBC.

Nordstrom Rack disputes that it is in someway selling inferior goods to consumers and asserts that having a second-hand, used or vintage tag is not necessarily a deterrent to sales.

In recent years, as CNBC reported in 2010, shops selling vintage fashions have thrived, in part because of the attention generated by celebrities such as Penelope Cruz, Kirsten Dunst, Kate Moss and Sarah Jessica Parker wearing items previously worn by someone else.

"If it is a high-end item being refurbished and it’s definitely not being sold at its full-line stores, then it’s fine if it’s sold at the Rack," Edward Yruma, an analyst with Keybanc Capital Markets Research, told CNBC. "It is within the scope when you buy at the off-price channel."

Discussion Questions: Do you see reason for concern that Nordstrom could tarnish its image selling “worn and refinished” shoes at its Rack outlets? What do you think Nordstrom has to do to make the practice a positive from both a sales and branding standpoint?

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16 Comments on "Nordstrom Sells Second-Hand Shoes"


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Paula Rosenblum
Guest
10 years 2 months ago

Unless the shoes are Louboutins, it’s just plain creepy.

Bob Phibbs
Guest
10 years 2 months ago

Fashion is perishable. For me pre-owned and bruised sales probably happen at some department stores already. Using tony brands seems a disconnect. Maybe GAP or Sears might fit this better.

Matt Schmitt
Guest
10 years 2 months ago

I would agree that it’s “in scope” for the channel, and that as long as high-end brands do well at keeping the outlet brands at arm’s length, then it shouldn’t negatively impact the brand.

Ed Rosenbaum
Guest
10 years 2 months ago

A pre owned Lexus bought from a dealership is still a Lexus. Buying “worn and refinished” from Nordstrom’s is no different. It is still Nordstrom.

Bill Emerson
Guest
Bill Emerson
10 years 2 months ago

If this were done in the full-line stores, it could be an image problem. The whole point of the Rack is high quality products at lower prices for the aspirational customer. Even with something like shoes, assuming they are in good shape, this brings pricey, upscale labels into the reach of those who can’t afford full-price. People rent tuxedos and dress shoes, don’t they?

Steve Montgomery
Guest
10 years 2 months ago

The shoes are being sold at their Rack locations and not their Nordstrom locations. They are clearly labeled “worn and refurbished.” The buyer is well aware of what they are getting — footwear that was worn by someone else at what I expect is a great price. I don’t see this being an image issue for Nordstrom.

Bill Robinson
Guest
Bill Robinson
10 years 2 months ago

A Rack shopper is looking for a bargain anyway. Why not surprise them with a “worn and refinished” option? This is likely to enhance the shopping experience and build customer loyalty. And it is likely to be highly profitable. All good.

Ronald Stack
Guest
Ronald Stack
10 years 2 months ago

You wouldn’t buy used shoes from just anyone, so only a high-end retailer could pull this off. Perhaps they should follow the lead of high-end carmakers, who sell used cars as “Certified Pre-Owned” with a lot of fanfare (inspection, warranty, etc.). Buying CPO isn’t a used car experience (I’ve done it several times) and I don’t think selling pre-worn shoes will turn Nordstrom Rack into a thrift store. I think it’s innovative and smart.

Ed Dunn
Guest
10 years 2 months ago

Just amused at the thought someone would have issues with used shoes at the Nordstrom Rack but would pay $47,000 USD for a “pre-owned” Mercedes….

Gene Hoffman
Guest
Gene Hoffman
10 years 2 months ago

It’s Friday and seems a good day for me
To lay some Rack poetry upon thee.
Second-hand Rose must have lasting appeal
When Nordstrom’s Rack sells once worn shoes on deal.

I saw a gal look at “refinished” shoes
Dreaming whose tootsies paid initial dues.
I said, “You don’t know what they have stepped in.”
“I really don’t care,” she said with a grin.

“They might have been worn by gorgeous Jolie.
If they were I’d feel special and holy.
I am used to wearing used bowling boots
That never got any fashion salutes.”

Then it dawned on me that Nordstrom’s no hack
There’s fantasy and money in their Rack.
Nordstrom’s tapping into an unserved niche
While preserving its high quality pitch.

Some might say Nordstrom’s making a mistake
But for my two cents, I’ve another take.
Now I ask, “When’ll Brad Pitt’s shoes arrive
And allow my shoe image to survive?”

Doug Siemens
Guest
Doug Siemens
10 years 2 months ago

I was a bargain shopper out of necessity in my youth and developed a strong friendship with a cobbler who bought, refurbished and then sold shoes. He called it his “re-soled” business. I was able to get very good shoes at very good prices. His son is now the owner of the business. They no longer sell used shoes, but my family and I still shop with them. That’s brand loyalty.

Robert Spector
Guest
Robert Spector
10 years 2 months ago

As the author of the book, “The Nordstrom Way,” I’ve had the opportunity to view the facility where Nordstrom refinishes those shoes to make them look virtually new. (The facility is also used as the central location to reunite mis-mated shoes.) The average customer couldn’t tell that the shoes had ever been worn. Nordstrom is being completely truthful with its customers. The company clearly states that the shoes are not new. That’s why they are selling them at the Rack, not at the full-line stores. This so-called “controversy” is much ado about nothing.

Robert DiPietro
Guest
10 years 2 months ago

No concern because they are selling it at Nordstrom Rack — that’s the point of the store; lower price “slightly worn.”

If people are still willing to put their feet in bowling shoes, this should be a slam dunk.

Tracey Croughwell
Guest
Tracey Croughwell
10 years 2 months ago

I’m surprised this is news … I thought it was commonly understood by Nordstrom Rack consumers that they’re buying either out of season items or returned items. Since Nordstrom Rack’s 2011 Q4 sales increased nearly 24% over the previous year, it doesn’t sound like they have to do anything.

Christopher P. Ramey
Guest
10 years 2 months ago

Selling shoes that have been returned reinforces why Nordstrom Rack exists. Eventually, informed consumers will learn that too many of the products in the outlet malls were bought for the outlet malls — and would never be considered for the full-line stores. Brand elasticity has its limits.

Gustavo Gomez
Guest
Gustavo Gomez
10 years 2 months ago

Used is in. Nordstrom can spin this to their advantage: ecology and quality. Ecology is easy; remember reduce, reuse, recycle. The fact that worn items can still be sold is a testament to the quality of the items they sell. That is how Patagonia is marketing it. As long as they keep it at the Rack, they should be fine.

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