The Best and Worst Nordstrom Racks in the Seattle Area
Nordstrom Rack are not all created equal. Some places produce crinkle plastic bag-on-bag of blessed, cheap designer clothes. Others produce only grief and dehydration. How can a self-respecting buyer tell the difference?
Luckily, I’m not a self-respecting buyer. Over a holiday weekend, in the midst of a 25% clearance extravaganza, I visited every Nordstrom Rack in the Seattle area, from Lynnwood to Auburn and everywhere in between. I worked my way through eight busy shoe departments. I frowned at my reflection in eight different mirrors. I made several misguided charges on my Nordstrom card.
The Results: My definitive list of Seattle-area Nordstrom racks, ranked.
1. Factoria Shopping Centre, Bellevue
Best for: Accessible luxury brands and the people who love them
Worse for: misanthropes
In my bible, every high-end brand found in Nordstrom jumped on an ark, and after it rained for 40 days and 40 nights, that ark surfaced at Factoria Mall. Then (still in my bible) Oprah came along and gave each of those brands her own rounder: Walter Baker, you get a rack. Five to seven, you get a rack. Gucci, Derek Lam, Topshop, everyone gets a rack. The clearance sections are dressed; Prada pantsuits and boots are still $400 with a deep discount, but affordable deals abound, too. And the walk-in closet is complete with a tilted, lighted mirror to check them all out.
Which explains why, around 5 p.m. on a weekend, the place is teeming with shoppers looking for (and no doubt finding) incredible deals on luxury fashion. Emotions are strong. The lines are long. You’re either going to cry, or be fooled by the gauntlet of goodies at checkout buying fake nails and beef jerky, or both. That’s what it’s about.
2. Downtown Seattle
Best for: Designer offers; vampire
Worse for: Children; all that is holy
Seattle’s downtown Nordstrom Rack is a melting pot beneath the city streets where shoppers emerge parched, shocked that the sun still shines or exists, and several hundred dollars poorer. Unlike most Nordstrom racks, which have a kids’ department filled almost entirely with brands that no Nordstrom Proper cares to carry, this location forgoes the category entirely, as if to deter shoppers from exposing future generations to this depravity. . No, as if to say, We are all witnessing the end of the human race as we know it, and the annihilation will begin here, next to something glittery, hell, and Gucci.
Which brings me to why I love this place: the designer section. And it’s a bonafide section, with a trendy lowercase “designer” sign on the wall and shelves upon shelves dedicated exclusively to designer fashion. Ninety percent Rodarte. Seventy-five percent off Valentino. A sanctuary for Marc Jacobs handbags. Hyper-focused women robotically wading courtesy of the creators. Sunglasses – Fendi, Givenchy, Miu Miu – take up the entire tiny top floor, presumably to remind shoppers to protect their eyes when stepping out of hours spent in a basement. If the downtown rack opened the gates to hell, so be it. I sold my soul to afford Rag and Bone.
3. Totem Lake Village, Kirkland
Best for: Discounts on stiff shoes; scavengers
Worse for: A lack of time
Totem Lake Nordstrom Rack consistently delivers in the footwear department. Based on the dirty soles of a gorgeous pair of matte white Jeffrey Campbell cowboy boots and at least one pair of designer shoes whose soles had in fact been refurbished, I suspect this is where the mid to high-end shoes have fallen victim to Nordstrom’s generous return policy being relocated. It’s also where I found the nicest pair of shoes I own and where just this weekend I snagged a pair of zebra print Swedish Hasbeens, originally $330, for 70 $.
The rest of the store is a bit messy. Desirable brands like Samsøe Samsøe and Reformation are distributed so randomly that the most likely explanation involves a group of suspicious shoppers deliberately hiding their finds before getting lost in the shoe department and completely forgetting about them. Speaking of suspicious buyers: it pains me to think that, just like a fisherman telling the world about his favorite spot, I might end up missing out on an incredible catch.
4. The Outlet Collection, Auburn
Best for: Marie Kondo
Worse for: Beauty products; also Marie Kondo
I love a Rack that is stuffed to the absolute gills. That’s not the impression I got when I arrived in Auburn to be greeted by the most flimsy cosmetic department in Rack’s history (on the trip where I decided to finally restock myself with Clinique moisturizer ), tables of cheap jewelry seemingly turned upside down by an extreme weather event, and a hospitality section anchored by a refreshing $10 guacamole contraption (on the trip when I had decided to buy a birthday present for my aunt). A disappointing development for a Rack supposed to be the best in the region.
But expectations are the enemy of the bargain buyer. This rarity, I quickly realized, was simply the product of the overwhelming chaos that rules this place – a chaos that results in shelves overcrowded with high-end finds made even softer in relation to the disaster that surrounds them. Reform John. Intentionally blank sandals. Ganni on Ganni on Ganni. Even the home section, upon closer inspection, managed to conjure up a Smeg kettle. If you like clutter, this is the rack for you.
5. Golde Creek Plaza, Lynnwood
Best for: Junior; midrange selection
Worse for: Tell-your-friends find
How about a perfectly nice and completely average Nordstrom rack? It’s clean and organized, and you can usually find sizes and brands where they say they will be. It is mostly stocked with originally inexpensive classic rack brands like Melloday and Lush. On a good day, the high-end selection is small but impressive – Proenza Schouler, Tyler McGillivary, Herves Leger.
No section stands out as particularly wonderful, though the relatively well-stocked juniors department, surprisingly curated cosmetics and accessories area, and selection of inexpensive bags get honorable mention. This probably won’t be the rack where you make a memorable, boastful purchase. But you’ll tell your friends that you found something for everyone and had a great time.
6. Northgate Mall, Seattle
Best for: Luggage; men’s clothes
Worse for: Triggering mall nostalgia
Northgate Nordstrom Rack – if you can find it in the obstacle course which is the combination of Dead Mall, Red Robin, Light Rail Station and Kraken Community Iceplex – is a land of contrasts. It earns points for its absurdly large luggage selection (seriously, this is the place to go if you need a suitcase) and great deals in the men’s department, especially on suits and apparel. work. It loses them for organization and inventory consistency (the deals are there, but some sizes seem scarce, and you’re going to have to check every turn to find them).
Once you sniff them, the brands here are contemporary and cutting-edge; think of Agolde, Staud and Lita from Ciara. While I personally prefer the thrill of the chase, those occasional scores just weren’t enough to rank it above the more consistent Lynnwood.
7. Southcenter Square, Tukwila
Best for: Plus size selection
Worse for: Locker room stress
First and foremost it has to be said: this is by far the best Nordstrom rack in the Seattle area for plus size clothing. Nordstrom’s brick-and-mortar plus-size selection leaves a lot to be desired in general, and the racks are no exception – most locations dedicate at most two rounders to modes above an XL size. Here, there’s a well-stocked rack of plus-size jeans, several round garments, an entire section within the clothing department, and heaps and heaps of clearance options.
No Rack is completely devoid of finds, but the rest of the store is distinctly “meh,” from the unusually hectic dressing room to the large but disappointing clearance shoe aisles.
8. Lincoln Square, Bellevue
Best for: Expectations
Worse for: Reality
If Factoria’s Nordstrom rack is so good, just to imagine a two-story store in downtown Bellevue. Maybe they serve Trophy cupcakes in the queue instead of throwing Hi-Chew. Maybe they exclusively sell luxury brands. There might be a cafe!
Well…the Lincoln Square location certainly smacks of luxury. It smells clean and new, with an industrial look and an open floor plan. Impressively wide shoe aisles accommodate two people without arousing the primal urge to fight for territory. But there is not much to fight. Sparse rounders devoid of thrilling finds satisfy neither the instinct to hunt nor the instinct to gather. The plus size section is oddly relegated to a far corner. Yeah, there’s designer stuff. And, unlike many much better places, it’s not a bad place. It’s just a bad Nordstrom Rack.