Byline: Katherine Bowers

LOS ANGELES — Struggling retailer Nordstrom Inc. said it will close a 40-year old store in Yakima, Wash.
“This was one of the toughest decisions we’ve ever had to make. Yakima was one of our first stores. Many of our company’s top leaders can trace their roots to the Yakima store,” company president Blake Nordstrom said in a statement late Wednesday.
The Seattle-based specialty chain reported that revenues for the Yakima store have dipped 34 percent since 1994. A spokesman blamed the decline on retailer flight and closures within the city’s downtown retail core. A J.C. Penney outlet and a unit of the bankrupt furniture chain Helig Myers closed within the past year.
Bon Marche, another anchor for the area, recently announced its intention to move to a larger space in the Valley Mall in nearby Union Gap, Wash.
“It’s impossible for us to be the retail anchor without the presence of other [large] retailers,” the Nordstrom spokesman said. Nordstrom said it declined to renew its Yakima lease, which expires at the end of this year.
Bill Cook, director of Yakima’s Department of Community and Economic Development, said the community’s size — population hovers at 120,000 — makes it a battleground for retailer retrenchment.
“Some of the national retail chains have been hurting and to build confidence back,” he said, “they begin to make cost cuts in smaller communities first.”
The Yakima Nordstrom store is slated to close March 31. The store’s 132 employees will be given a chance to relocate or will be given severance packages. There are seven full-line stores and four Rack units in Washington state.
The spokesman said there were no immediate plans to close other stores.
The company ousted chief executive officer John Whitacre in August and is now led by brothers Blake and Pete Nordstrom. Pete heads the full-line stores. Their father, Bruce Nordstrom, serves as chairman. In the third quarter of last year, the retailer had a net loss of $3.3 million, while same-store sales sank 3 percent.

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