posted by: Shomore in Shoe History Corner on May 30th, 2008
One of the tourist attractions we took in while Shoesense was in Seattle was the Underground Tour. The dusty underground tunnels were not much to look at. Thankfully we had a wonderful, humorous tour guide who was able to captivate and introduce us to Seattle’s rich history. The tour ended in Rogue Alley whereby we came upon the subject of today’s shoe history corner.
Shoesense mentioned this already, but Nordstrom the department store actually started off as a shoe store. The picture below is of the Wallin and Nordstrom Shoe Store, founded in 1901 (John Nordstrom is pictured in the front left). The shoe store was located on 4th Ave and Pike Street, not far from where Nordstrom’s flagship store is located today.
The story of John Nordstrom is particularly interesting. Nordstrom hailed from Sweden. When he arrived in New York, at the ripe age of 16, he had a whopping $5 in his pockets. Nordstrom headed west to make his fortune in the Alaskan gold fields. With a little luck, Nordstrom earned enough money so that he and his Alaskan friend, Carl Wallin, could open a shoe store. By 1959, that store which would grow into the largest independently owned shoe store in the nation before eventually transforming into the publicly traded department stores that we know today.
For more company history, check out Nordstrom’s website.