Tweet me up, Nordy’s Rack

Partygoers were greeted at the new Nordstrom Rack by young men offering libations. Credit: Sue Frause

It was billed as a “tweetup,” and I was on the “exclusive” invitation list to attend the tweetup preview party for the new Nordstrom Rack at Westlake Center that opens Thursday (March 15). The invite to the Tuesday evening event was targeted at social media, techie, fashion, and shopper types — I somehow made the cut.

Although I’ve been a card carrying member of Nordstrom since the early ’70s, I wouldn’t consider myself much of a shopper or fashionista, and I’m not uber techie. But social media? Oh, yeah. With 2,515 followers on Twitter, I tweet away regularly in 140 characters or less, so I was more than curious about this fashion forward party. The two-hour soiree was described in an email by one of Nordstrom’s social media staff as an opportunity to “get a gift card, food, drink and other gifts — and you”ll get to shop the store before it opens! It’ll be a lot of fun!” I RSVP’d yes for the March 13 evening event, and invited my daughter-in-law to go along with me (we were allowed to bring one friend). All I had to do was download the invitation, print it out and show up at Westlake Center at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday (March 13).

If you’re not familiar with a tweetup, it’s short for Twitter meetup. Or as Urban Dictionary describes a tweetup: “A group of friends on Twitter (social network) that are planning to meet up. A request by a user to meet with friends via Twitter.” Although I’d heard of tweetups, and been invited to a few, this would be my debut. So armed with my Android, I was ready to check out the Rack’s new digs, now conveniently located across the street from the Nordstrom flagship store. A tweeting I would go.

The line was at least 50 deep outside Westlake Center, as partygoers waited to be checked in. Curious passersby wondered what was up. “There must be a sale going on,” said one gongoozler. I chatted with a dapper fellow decked out in a natty, vested suit topped off with a fedora. Calling himself a fashion stylist, he said he was there to scope out the fashions, along with the people.

After checking in, we were handed Nordstrom Rack tote bags, which contained beauty products, a cell phone screen cleaner, and a $50 Nordstrom gift card. As we descended to the lower level of Westlake Center on the escalator, we were greeted by handsome young men offering us our beverages of choice — I went with the ginger vodka lime libation. Smiling servers wended their way through the hundreds of invited guests with trays of appetizers, accompanied by too loud DJ music. The local paparazzi were present, along with a film crew. I spotted a few people I knew, in real life and via social media.

The first Nordstrom Rack opened as a clearance center in the lower level of the downtown Nordstrom store in the early 1970s. It eventually relocated to Second and Pine in 1987, where it occupied four floors. The new 42,500 sq. ft. space at Westlake Center, although only 500 sq. ft. larger than the old, seems much more spacious, since it’s all contained on one floor. Other numbers have escalated with the three-block move, too. There are now 33 fitting rooms, up from 23; 16 cash registers and 16 mobile devices, up from 13 registers and no mobile checkout at the old store. The new Rack also features a flower shop selling $10 bunches of locally grown blooms and shoppers are given eco-friendly shopping bags. Then there’s all that merchandise, which includes discounted apparel, shoes, accessories, and cosmetics for both women and men. That means tens of thousands of pairs of shoes; 5,000 pairs of denim; 3,000 men’s ties; and 2,600 handbags. While the previous store had somewhat of a thrift shop vibe to it, the Nordstrom Rack at Westlake is upscale in feel, and much more shopper friendly.

As far as the tweetup aspect of the party, I noticed people taking photos and tweeting with their smart phones. Although I took a few pictures, the dreaded battery warning came on, telling me that my Droid would soon be powering off. Before I could finish composing my tidy tweet of 140 characters (Fun tweetup event at new Downtown Seattle Nordstrom Rack at Westlake Center. Fashion! Music! Food! Libations! Opens 3/15. @nordstrom_rack), my Droid faded to black. I guess the Nordstrom Rack’s 52,153 Twitter followers would have to enjoy the party without me.

If you go: Nordstrom Rack at Westlake Center — Opening Day: Thursday, March 15 at 9 a.m. (Rally at the Rack festivities begin at 7 a.m.). Events include an Emerald Hanger Hunt, Race Through the Rack, complimentary totes for the first 1,000 customers, live music from Hit Explosion and treats from Top Pot Donuts and Dante’s Inferno Dogs. The store entrance is at 5th Avenue and Pine Street.

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