A shopaholic's guide to new Nordstrom Rack

2011-10-23T00:00:00Z 2011-10-25T13:02:08Z A shopaholic's guide to new Nordstrom RackKristen Cook Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
October 23, 2011 12:00 am  • 

For a shopaholic, nothing gets the pulse racing faster than a price tag with a slash through it.

Take that, Suggested Retail Price! We refuse to pay you.

SRPs are strictly for show at the brand spankin' new Nordstrom Rack, which opened Oct. 13 to an eager throng of about 800 people. The most serious die-hards lined up at 11 the night before, said Nordstrom Rack spokeswoman Kendall Ault, who credited that as the earliest Rack customer arrival on record.

Is the shopping that good?

Well, yes. It is - if you know what you're looking for.

So please allow me, Serious Shopper Extraordinaire who has the silver Nordstrom Visa card (and slightly bitter husband) to back up that billing, to help you shop the Rack.

But first, an introduction.

Nordstrom Rack is the off-price retail division of Nordies. This means there's no guy in a tux tickling the ivories of a sleek, grand piano like you'd find up at Scottsdale Fashion Square. But hey, the piped-in top 40 music isn't so bad. You also won't find the kind of prices that you typically do up north.

Merchandise at the Rack includes clearance and closeout pieces from the full-line Nordstrom stores and its website at 50-60 percent off. Other items are purchased specifically for the Rack, Ault said. The savings there are 30-70 percent off - say it with me - Suggested Retail Price. The cut and color might be different from what you'd find at a full-on Nordstrom, but merchandise is still very much on-trend and of the moment.

"You're going to find stuff that you want to wear right now," Ault said.

Well, except for perhaps the velour Juicy Couture hoodies and sweatpants, which, let's all make a pact right now and pinky-swear to stop wearing them to drop the kids off at school. Even at the discounted price of $49.97 for a hoodie (rather than $138 SRP), this is a look - like overly tight spandex shorts at the grocery store - that needs to stop, ladies. Now.

So there's your fashion tip o' the day. Now, some suggestions for shopping the 33,200-square-foot discount store:

• Read the signs. Big signs lead the way to shoes, the men's department, kid's clothing, accessories. Smaller signs alert you to brand names like Fendi and Valentino - or to good deals like "$299.97 and under." To be fair, those digits did refer to fancy leather jackets by Twenty8Twelve, actress Sienna Miller's clothing line, which commands crazy high prices. Pick up an InStyle mag. See for yourself. Which brings us to the next tip …

• Know your stuff. Nordstrom is a high-end department store that sells high-end lines we flip-flop-and-shorts-wearing Tucsonans don't usually see around these parts - Tory Burch, Kate Spade, Burberry. So yeah, even discounted prices can cause sticker-shock. Here's the thing - the Tory Burch burnt-gold leather, sherpa-lined vest marked $299.97 started out at $995. Sounds like a deal.

But, the pair of women's gray, lace-up Converse marked $34.90?

Converse is a brand pretty easy to find around town. Target has similar styles on sale for $29.99, with a regular price of $34.99. Verdict: The Rack price is not so hot.

At the same time, the tasseled Sperry leopard-print driving mocs, selling online right now for $98, were $59.90 - and in my size.

And no one would argue that $1.97 for a white nylon bath poof is out of line. Yes, interestingly, along with the high-end designer lines, Nordstrom Rack also sells drugstore hair and skin products.

• If at first you don't succeed, shop and shop again. New merchandise arrives on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at our Nordstrom Rack.

"You're going to want to shop often," suggested Ault. "You never know what you're going to find - it is the ultimate treasure hunt."

And, like any good pirate knows, leave the kids at home during treasure-hunting season. Nothing sucks the fun out of shopping more than someone who needs to go potty NOW and throws a tantrum when you spend more than 30 seconds flipping through the hangers.

Come to think of it, leave the husband at home, too.

Oh, you can definitely shop for them all - there are all kinds of goodies in the men's and children's departments - you'll just be happier not schlepping them along. Trust me.

• Hang on to your receipt. Nordstrom is known for its liberal return policy (it takes everything back). Nordstrom Rack, however, requires an item to have its original price tag and receipt. You can bring back merchandise for return or exchange within 30 days of purchase if it hasn't been worn or altered.

• Be willing to give it up. Not just your money, but also your email address. Joining the Rack Insider email list means early alerts to big shopping events. You can also become a fan on Facebook and follow the store on Twitter. If you haven't quite gotten the hang of the 21st century, sign up in the store to receive postcard alerts.

Contact reporter Kristen Cook at kcook@azstarnet.com or 573-4194.

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