in performance: heartless bastards

heartless bastards: dave colvin, erika wennerstrom, jesse ebaugh

heartless bastards: dave colvin, erika wennerstrom, jesse ebaugh

As of last night, Christmas was a mere week away. But there wasn’t any holiday slant at all to the thick power trio charge Erika Wennerstrom designed with her newest Heartless Bastards lineup at The Dame.

Though the singer/guitarist was a congenial host, flashing broad smiles to the sizeable crowd between songs, her music was spun from a dark, dense yet often hopeful fabric. Vocally, emotively and, at times, instrumentally, the trio recalled the muscular attitude Johnette Napolitano fashioned two decades ago on her first albums with Concrete Blonde. Wennerstrom’s music wasn’t quite that anthemic. But the husky authority of her singing and the band’s assertive rhythmic drive, particularly the tight, thunderous support drummer Dave Colvin summoned on Searching for the Ghost, brought more than a few Blonde moments to mind.

Though it wasn’t openly flaunted, there was also a pronounced power pop undercurrent to Wennerstrom’s songs, from Jesse Ebaugh’s opening bass stutter during the Ramones-like New Resolution to the crankier Neil Young guitar colors of Blue Sky.

Not everything could be so quickly pegged to past influences, though. Gray hitched a theme of personal restoration to a pop assault the Bastards could rightly call their own. A similar sense of personal rediscovery (“things are coming into focus”) propelled Into the Open, where Wennerstrom lightened the volume for an introductory keyboard melody but not the show’s inherent drive and restlessness.

Nordstrom Opens First Florida Store in Boca Raton.(Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News)

Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News October 31, 2000 | Walker, Elaine Nov. 1–Ask a die-hard shopper what he or she likes about Nordstrom and the answer will usually be either its legendary customer service, liberal return policy or vast selection of shoes.

South Florida consumers will get the chance to experience the things that make Nordstrom unique on Friday, when the retailer opens at the Town Center at Boca Raton.

The Town Center store marks the beginning of the Seattle chain’s expansion into Florida. While the majority of Nordstrom’s 75 full-line stores are in the West, the company has been expanding on the East Coast since 1988.

“We’ve looked at Florida for a long time,” said Blake Nordstrom, who in August became president of the company his great-grandfather founded as a shoe store in 1901. “We think that there are a lot of opportunities here. It’s a natural extension of our growth.” Nordstrom is scheduled to open in Fall 2002 in Coral Gables, as an anchor at the Rouse Co.’s Village of Merrick Park. The chain also has committed to projects in Orlando and Tampa. here nordstrom coupon code

And Blake Nordstrom acknowledged this week that the company has looked at other sites in Broward County and North Dade for a full-line store. Plus, the company is looking for sites for Nordstrom Rack stores, the company’s retail outlet store.

“We have a strong desire to fill in some of those areas if possible,” Nordstrom said.

Nordstrom’s opening is part of a grand reopening of the Town Center, which has undergone a major renovation and the addition of a new 267,000-square-foot wing. In addition to Nordstrom, the expansion will add more than 30 stores and restaurants, including Cole Haan, Hugo Boss, Lucky Brand Dungarees, J. Jill and Legal Seafood.

Mall managers and many retail analysts expect Nordstrom to lure customers from as far as Miami-Dade County.

“They’re a good attraction,” said Herbert Leeds, president of Leeds Business Counseling, a Miami retail consulting firm. “They bring more people to a center because they’re unique from a quality and inventory standpoint.” While Nordstrom is most often compared to stores like Saks Fifth Avenue and Bloomingdale’s, it is not a full-line department store. Nordstrom carries only apparel, shoes and accessories, not any home or electronics merchandise.

The Boca Raton Nordstrom will have the extensive shoe collection that is the company’s trademark. It will stock almost 80,000 pairs of shoes for men, women and children in sizes up to 13 for women and 20 for men.

At Nordstrom many services that other competitors charge for are complimentary, including personal shopping, basic alterations, delivery, gift boxes and shoe shine.

Plus, Nordstrom sales associates are authorized to do whatever it takes to satisfy a customer. That can mean changing a customer’s flat tire, taking merchandise to their office or returning merchandise for them to a competitor’s store.

It’s that service that has made loyalists out of people like Ruth Margolis. She moved to Coral Springs nine years ago from San Francisco and has driven to Atlanta just to shop at Nordstrom.

“You’ve never seen anybody so thrilled to have a new store opening,” said Margolis, who was checking out the store at Monday night’s charity grand opening. “I’ve already got my credit card warmed up and ready to go.” But Fort Lauderdale retail consultant Bill Wholey isn’t sure there are enough shoppers in South Florida who are familiar with the Nordstrom name. He thinks the company has made a mistake by hop-scotching across the country, instead of sticking to the region it knows best. in our site nordstrom coupon code

“They’re coming in here, and they’re unknown,” Wholey said. “They’ve got to introduce people to the store. If they don’t do a good job of that, they’re going to be in trouble.” The expansion into South Florida comes at a time when Nordstrom is struggling to rebound from disappointing operating results and a declining stock price.

The retailer announced last month that it won’t meet Wall Street’s third-quarter earnings expectations and will at best break even. The poor performance has been blamed on excessive inventory markdowns, severance costs related to management restructuring and a writedown on its investment in the Internet grocer Streamline.com.

The Nordstrom family took back management reins of the company two months ago, when Blake Nordstrom was named president. His brother Pete Nordstrom was named president of full-line stores and their father Bruce Nordstrom became chairman.

While Blake Nordstrom declined to discuss any details of his plan for improving the bottom line, analysts expect his focus will be on the company’s merchandising, which was unsuccessfully revamped under previous management to attract a younger customer.

“We’ve taken our eye off the ball, and we haven’t executed as well as we could,” Blake Nordstrom said. “We’re committed to improving and demonstrating that through our actions.” Walker, Elaine

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