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Checking out Nordstrom Rack at Colonie Center

Nordstrom Rack Colonie Center exterior

By Lauren Hittinger

I tend to be critical of the retail selection in the Capital Region, especially when it comes to women's clothes. Maybe my disdain is unwarranted, but this area is missing some of my favorite brands -- among them, the upscale department store Nordstrom.

As you've probably heard, a new Nordstrom Rack opens today at Colonie Center. It's not quite a full-fledged Nordstrom, but more like its less expensive, bargain-centered little sister. I'll take what I can get.

I had an opportunity this week to poke around Nordstrom Rack to see what shoppers can expect from this new spot.

Fast facts

+ Location: Inside Colonie Center, with entrances by Sears on the outside of the mall, and inside the mall on the second floor

+ Size: More than 34,000 square feet. (Roughly the same size as the Whole Foods at Colonie Center.)

+ Parent company: Nordstrom, which has 118 full-line Nordstrom locations and 178 Nordstrom Racks across the US and Canada.


There are a bunch of photos from the store above in large format -- click or scroll all the way up.

The look

The Rack has a vibe that's somewhere between a standard department store and a discount retailer like Marshalls. During my tour, the racks were bursting with merchandise. The displays are more tightly packed than a high-end retailer, and the space is purposefully casual, with pipes and ductwork visible on the ceiling.

The selection

Nordstrom Rack refers to itself as the "off-price division of Nordstrom, Inc." It aims to sell designer brands at 30-70 percent off. It's stocking clothing for men, women, and children, as well as jewelry, accessories, handbags, housewares, and luggage. The woman's section, which includes plus and petites, dominates the selection on the main floor.

In practice, the store has a mix between designer goods manufactured specifically for Nordstrom Racks and other discounted retailers, and merchandise that is marked down from full-line Nordstrom stores.

Let's take Kate Spade for example. This Nordstrom Rack has a nice selection of handbags and clothing from Kate Spade. But you'll notice that the women's clothing is Kate Spade's Saturday brand, which is a lower-priced alternative to the retailer's normal offerings. The products are still made by Kate Spade, but many are specifically designed to fit into a lower price point. You'll see this same idea reflected across a lot of different designers.

The Rack carries brands like Hunter Boots, Joe's Jeans, Trina Turk, and Hugo Boss. Some of these items will be specifically designed to fit a cost-conscious store model, and some will be markdowns from full designer prices. The Rack also has a few brands, like 14th and Union, which are exclusive to Nordstrom Rack locations.

So, does it add anything different to the local shopping scene?

A lot of the brands that are carried at Nordstrom Rack can be found at some of the other retailers locally, mostly at Macy's and Lord and Taylor. The only difference is that the Rack is attempting to provide those luxury brands at a consistent discount. Sure, you can occasionally find a pair of 7 For All Mankind jeans at TJ Maxx, but it's a search.

If you have expensive tastes, but lack the budget to go with it, you might want to stop by the Rack. This store isn't going to fulfill your every shopping desire, but it is offering something a little bit different to the Albany market. And, to me, that in itself is exciting -- that new retailers are coming to the Capital Region.

Any hopes for a full-fledged Nordstrom?

Unfortunately for all of us Nordstrom lovers, it's unlikely we'll see a full-line store here anytime soon. PR manager Jessica Canfield writes: "Nordstrom Rack at Colonie Center is a great opportunity in a shopping center that's a good fit for the Rack. Lots of factors have to fall into place in order for us to be able to open a Nordstrom store. We're always looking for ways to better serve our customers around the country, but we do not currently have plans to open a full-line store."

Lauren Hittinger Hodgson is a freelance writer and contributor to AOA. She lives in Troy with her husband and dozen almost-dead houseplants.

Earlier on AOA: Checking out the new Lord & Taylor at Crossgates


Nice rack!

This store actually has very little in petite sizes. I was told at the Tuesday preview that this store is not designated to carry petite sizes. There were just a couple of pairs of dress pants, and a few items on clearance. Also, I was looking forward to shopping for shoes, but in contrast to a regular Nordstrom, there was not a single pair of narrow-width shoes in my size, although the shoe department manager said that he would try to get some in.

Well done Lauren.

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