Debra Prinzing

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Now you can get LOCAL cut flowers at Nordstrom Rack

Tuesday, March 13th, 2012

Tulips as Fashion at the new Seattle Nordstrom Rack Store

Right after the first of the year, an e-mail arrived in our in-box via The 50 Mile Bouquet blog.

“Hi – I am the Home Buyer for Nordstrom Rack. I am looking for a local floral resource to put together a floral program for our downtown Seattle Rack, which we are relocating to Westlake in March. We want this store to be special! We will have a lobby space where we’d like to sell fresh, local bouquets daily, a la Pike Place Market. Would you be able to meet with me to discuss this?”

The correspondent was Kelly Smith, Nordstrom Rack’s home and gift buyer who later told me that things like the new floral program defaulted to her because she’s a “Jill of all trades” and besides, someone there decided that the woman responsible for buying vases for the Rack is more likely to know about flowers than someone who buys handbags or cosmetics.

I was intrigued and agreed to meet with Kelly and some of her colleagues back in January. To be honest, there was an idea brewing in the back of my mind that I could get a little floral business going and drag one of my creative girlfriends into the adventure.

But Kelly and her team were very ambitious and exact in their vision. It soon became clear to me that while they might need my advice to come up with the right flower calendar, week-by-week, they would need someone with a larger-scale wholesale operation than I would ever have (or want to have, for that matter).

Nordstrom designed its own mod flower buckets with racks on wheels ~ cool!

Eventually, I helped Kelly find a local wholesaler who is now sourcing flowers from local farms, sorting and bunching the stems, and making daily deliveries to the new Nordstrom Rack on the corner of 5th and Pine (in the former Talbot’s location at Westlake Mall). How did Nordstrom come up with this idea of selling locally-grown cut flowers along with designer shoes and bargain-priced fashions for women and men?

“We knew we had this really great lobby space, right off of Westlake, but it’s not a selling space,” Kelly points out. “We started brainstorming about what we could do to create the Pike Place Market feeling near Westlake.” [Locals and tourist alike know that the Rack was located for years at 2nd and Pine, just across the street from the Pike Place Market.] “Selling flowers ties us back to the community and supports the local floral industry.”

When the Rack opens on Thursday, March 15th, shoppers will be able to buy a bunch of 15 gorgeous local tulips for $10. This week, the palette includes yellow, orange and red tulips. Next week, according to Kelly, the palette will include white, purple, light pink and dark pink. “They are so vibrant and beautiful,” she enthused. In future weeks, you’ll see a wide range of flowers, depending on the seasonal crops being harvested from local fields. Just like the fashion discoveries at the Rack, the floral offerings will be ever-changing.

It will be fascinating to watch how bargain-oriented Rack customers respond to the $10/bunch floral program. The overall vision is to make cash-and-carry cut flowers so accessible that everyone who walks through that lobby will want to grab a bunch on their way out of the store.

With that plan on my mind, I was thrilled to be invited to tonight’s “Tweet Up” pre-opening gala for (mostly) fashion bloggers. I was probably the only non-fashion blogger or Tweeter in attendance, but don’t worry – I found lots to grab my attention. Enjoy the photos here.

LOCAL Flowers-to-Go at Nordstrom Rack

Purple, Green, and Teal desserts to match the Rack Logo - yum!


Tonight's preview party drew 150 fashion bloggers (and me!)

Style Hunter offering up cocktails at tonight's pre-opening soiree

Flowers also appear on a Dolce and Gabanna silk jacket. Originally $2,945, the new Rack price is $939.97. Tempting. . .


On the left, a $75 cut glass Kate Spade vase, now selling for $59. Thanks, Kelly - a great find and I brought it home with me!

More flowers on the toes of Marc Jacobs' shoes, marked down to $299 from $695. Too bad they were 1/2-sizes too small for moi!