By  on August 3, 2007

NATICK, Mass. — Nordstrom's first Boston-area store, which opens Sept. 7 in the Natick Collection mall, plays to the luxury retailer's strengths: shoes and service.

As construction crews worked to finish the 144,000-square-foot unit, which still awaits merchandise, the retailer provided a preview of the first of four stores that the Seattle-based chain plans to launch in Greater Boston by the end of 2010.

There is an espresso bar, bistro restaurant, a brow waxing salon, men's and women's medi-spa treatment rooms, a dressing room designed as a teen hangout with couches and a flat-screen TV, and another open-plan fitting area with moveable curtains that can be arranged to accommodate girlfriends shopping together.

But it's clear Nordstrom believes its competitive edge will come from putting its best foot forward. There are five separate shoe departments on the first floor, including three for women, a shoe-shine station and a two-story shoe stockroom that will house tens of thousands of pairs. The children's shoe department has a 200-gallon freshwater aquarium.

Nordstrom will be competing with the region's second Neiman Marcus, which sits next door and opens Sept. 15 as part of a $500 million expansion of Natick Collection.

The Nordstrom store will bow with 3,000 handbags on its first floor, along with fine jewelry, fragrance and open-sell cosmetics. Throughout, the store emphasizes a pearly white color scheme set off by touches of silver, charcoal gray, brown and robin's egg blue.

The second floor is devoted to women's apparel, organized into lifestyle departments. Nordstrom is showcasing its full range here, from Lauren by Ralph Lauren in the Point of View department to designer duds from Zac Posen and Nina Ricci in Collectors. St. John will be one of the only brands to get a dedicated space.

The B.P. junior department (formerly known as Brass Plum) has been reworked for this store. The new design, which is being tested for future rollout a Natick spokesman said, is more residential in feel and swaps out hot pink for a scheme of white cabinets and columns, stained concrete floors and chocolate woods. The retailer will host a gala opening Sept 5 with runway fashion shows and dinner to benefit the Boston Ballet and Museum of Fine Arts Boston.

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