On Wednesday night, the who’s who of Ottawa were in attendance at the pre-opening Gala at Nordstrom in the Rideau Centre. With more than 1,800 guests, it was fun to rub shoulders with fashionistas, bloggers, senators (both political and from the hockey team), philanthropists and Nordstrom admirers.
Not only did we get to be the lucky first to preview the stunning store, but all the proceeds from the ticket sales went to the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation and United Way Ottawa. Nordstrom fully underwrote the gala so 100% of ticket sales, $180,000, will benefit the organizations.
I arrived at 7:00 p.m., which was the time my invitation indicated the gala started. However, it seems “fashionably late” was not in any attendees vocabulary that night. When I arrived outside of the store, masses of people were already making their way in, joining others who were already inside the store.
Within minutes, I was sipping a white wine Sangria and browsing the latest Rebecca Minkoff Spring bag collection. Toronto-based solo artist Sean Jones serenaded the crowd and even got a little dance party going on in the handbag department.
What a great way to experience Ottawa’s Nordstrom store for the first time! Tulips and Maple catered the entire event, which meant yummy and creative finger food. From lobster rolls to mini grilled cheese and tomato soup, tables and tables of desserts and sweet potato hush puppies, the spread was easily admired by every foodie in attendance.
The store itself did not disappoint either. After hearing about all the little touches going into the store and all the hard work leading up to this event, it was amazing to see all these ideas come to fruition. Beautiful local artwork adorned the men’s department. Tile floors, as opposed to carpets, made the space seem more open and clean. An extensive coffee bar and large restaurant means that shopping can be an all-day event and with tons of departments and brands it would be easy to let the day slip away inside Nordstrom. Let’s not forget the staff who, dare I say, are the best part of all? Every single staff member I met was smiling, excited and knowledgeable (not just about their role but about the history of Nordstrom as well).
I was happy to make a pit stop in the children’s department to visit department manager Tony Trihn, who I had first met at the Spring 2015 Nordstrom Fashion show. When he said his department was fun, he was not lying. The children’s department is a stylish, but interactive space that will keep both adult shoppers and their little ones happy.
I was also thrilled to bump into Saul Navarro, who has been hyping up the visual aspect of the Ottawa location since we first met. It was amazing to see his ideas turned into reality in the store. The store featured a ton of stylish mannequins and for the gala Nordstrom pulled out all the stops by featuring a bunch of live mannequins that rotated the latest fashions.
Nordstrom has been a store that I religiously shop at when I cross the border. However, as I have gotten to know the store’s rich history, its friendly employees and loyal customer service, I feel like Nordstrom is now family. I have gotten to know a lot of the team through the awesome events Nordstrom has been putting on in the city and I know that when I go into the store to shop I will be looking for those familiar faces like Tony and Saul. Since I have been following Nordstrom’s journey in Ottawa as it unfolded, going to see the store in person felt special to me. I knew the hard work that went into it and the pride that the employees have for the store. Because of the effort and relationship Nordstrom has already made with the people here in Ottawa, it almost adds a human quality to the store. I feel proud to go there and want to support the store because I see how they support the city from hosting Winterlude events, to donating to local charities and putting up local art in their store. Plus, they have the best selection in the city when it comes to designer brands.
Nordstrom officially opens its doors on Friday, March 6, 2015. Stop by in person, welcome them to the city and tell them Tracey sent you.
Editor’s Note: A special thank you to John Bailey for keeping me in the loop on the latest Nordstrom developments and humouring me when I ask about all the celebrities he has met. Thank you to Rent Frock Repeat for the stunning gown that garnered me many compliments and thanks to Suzanne Fortier at Voila Coiffure for the blowout.