Nordstrom's move to Country Club Plaza was a big deal. What happens if it falls through?
For years, Nordstrom has planned to leave Oak Park Mall and move to a 122,000-square-foot space on the Plaza. But lately, reports have circled that the national retailer is reconsidering.
Country Club Plaza, Kansas City’s historic shopping district, has seen nearly a dozen business closures over the past year. And recent speculation that national retailer Nordstrom is now reconsidering its proposed move to a 122,000-square-foot location on the Plaza’s west side has businesses in the area concerned about who might replace it and when.
Nordstrom was slated to take over the space on Jefferson Street between 47th and 48th streets, after announcing in 2018 that it would move from its current location at Oak Park Mall. Initial plans called for Nordstrom to open on the Plaza in 2021, but COVID-19-related complications delayed those plans to 2023, according to a company spokesperson.
Ella Prater, who works at Paper Source on 48th Street adjacent to the space, said the name recognition of a national chain would help drive customers to other smaller businesses around.
“I feel like having a big brand's name like Nordstrom would've been great for us to definitely increase foot traffic, especially because it would've been located right next to us,” Prater said.
Theresa Ng, co-owner of Bo Lings, which sits directly across the empty lot, said the recent changes on the Plaza have forced her staff to adapt.
“It's been so, so much change and, it's been like this for like a few years now, so we kind of get used to it,” Ng said. “But, you know, we understand that it’s a process of building up things.”
Plaza officials declined to comment and referred inquiries to Nordstrom’s corporate offices. Nordstrom did not respond to requests for comment.
Tanisha Matches, owner of Matches Boutique on the Plaza, said she was aware of Nordstrom’s plans to move to the Plaza when she opened in 2020, but was not worried the national chain would affect business at her location.
“The Plaza has been the Plaza without Nordstrom,” Matches said. “So I don’t see how it would make or break the businesses down here.”
Tyler Enders, co-owner of Made in Kansas City, said it also hasn’t affected his decision to stay on the Plaza.
“We think its better for The Plaza if Nordstrom does go down there,” Enders says, “but if that doesn’t happen, there is also an opportunity for something unique and special to end up in that space.”
Regardless of what Nordstrom decides, local businesses agree that they want to see more Kansas City establishments in the shopping district’s future. Of the 126 shops and businesses currently on the Plaza, just 35 are locally owned.
Caden Shiner, a barista at Messenger, said more local representation is needed to maintain the district’s authenticity.
“I feel like they should definitely try and keep it as much as the feel of the Plaza, no matter what companies are coming and going,” Shiner said. “But definitely to try to keep it more local versus more chains coming in.”
Recently, Flatland reported that Dillard’s, a national clothing retailer, appears to be in talks to take over the Nordstrom space, but the Plaza’s owners, Taubman Centers and Macerich, have not confirmed those rumors.