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Nordstrom Inc. enters the Toronto market Friday with the opening of a “flagship” store right in the heart of downtown in the heavily trafficked CF Toronto Eaton Center.

The three-level, 220,000-square-foot store is filled with merchandising, service and store design innovations, some debuting in the Toronto store, others originally seen at the Vancouver flagship that opened in September 2015.

Among the firsts: a men’s club for hanging out, getting a glass of locally brewed beer, and for those actually shopping, there are fitting rooms. There are the first Nordstrom shops for Moncler shop Miu Miu and Loewe apparel, and a new Nike concept shop geared to women’s fashion customers and expected to carry exclusive merchandise beginning next year.

Nordstrom in Toronto also has a “vendor neutral” beauty concierge and beauty stylist to help customers who aren’t beauty junkies discover some product and learn how to make themselves up; a Space concept shop housing emerging designer labels, and a “Personalize It” counter for monogramming, embossing, engraving and embroidering anything a customer buys.

The store has a flexible floor plan to grow or shrink categories depending on sales trends, more natural light than typical units and an intensified designer offering that’s among the deepest in the Seattle-based department store chain, which will certainly compete directly with the new Saks Fifth Avenue that opened in February on Queen Street on the other side of the mall. Nordstrom also sells less expensive, “accessible” priced lines like Madewell.

As the Nordstrom family sees it, the Toronto store is part of an exclusive club — it’s a Nordstrom flagship and one of only five locations that qualify as such.

“This is a big deal. It will be among our top-five volume stores,” Pete Nordstrom, copresident of Nordstrom Inc., predicted. The group includes the Seattle; Bellevue, Wash.; Vancouver, and Michigan Avenue, Chicago locations. Nordstrom’s Manhattan flagship, scheduled to open in 2019, is anticipated to be the retailer’s largest volume unit.

“We could define a flagship strictly by volume, but mostly we define it as a store with a big reach and big presence, in the heart of downtown having the most foot traffic and eyeballs” on it, Nordstrom said.

Nordstrom’s second Toronto-area store opens in the Yorkdale Shopping Centre on Oct. 21, and a third will open in Sherway Gardens in September 2017. The first Nordstrom stores in Canada opened in Vancouver, Calgary and Ottawa. No other full-line stores are currently planned for Canada. The first Nordstrom Rack in Canada will open in 2018 on Toronto’s Bloor Street.

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