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Nordstrom tradition of live pianists is coming to an end

After years of their signature live pianist performances, Nordstrom is slowly sunsetting the beloved tradition as a sign of the times.

nordstrom piano

nordstrom piano

Nordstrom sunsetting the tradition of live pianists

Have you been into a Nordstrom store lately? Have you noticed a blank spot where the pianist used to perform? In many cities, that is most certainly the case, as the luxury retailer is sunsetting the tradition of live pianists in many locations. The Nordstrom brand has long been famous for its attention to detail and their care to bring the best possible consumer experience to bear, so this dying tradition is difficult for some people to swallow.

Of the 110 plus Nordstrom stores, only 30 still have pianists, according to The News Tribune, noting that the performers are hired on a part time basis for two days each week. The disappearing pianists weren’t given pink slips over night, it has been a slow, ongoing process.

“It’s a store-by-store decision. It’s just part of the evolving experience in the stores,” a Nordstrom spokesperson told The News Tribune. “It just depends on what the store wants to do. I think the store manager, like a lot of store managers, heard from some customers that wanted a different type of experience.”

The spokesperson added that most stores have moved to recorded music, which is “more modern.”

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Sign of the times?

Some will shake their fists and say the company has lost touch with their roots, and abandoned a tradition that loyal customers adore, but on the heels of one of the nation’s worst recessions, it makes perfect sense to cut costs. Could the pianists come back as the economy recovers? Sure, the company did say it’s up to each location, but given their nod to “modern” recorded music, we doubt the tradition will be revived any time soon.

While it is a sign of the times to cut costs, it is also a sign of the times to play modern music and appeal to shoppers and invigorate them. The Nordstrom clientele has changed over the decades, and it is no longer grandma and her tea time crew shopping for ball gowns, it is every day people buying anything from a standard pair of shoes to a trendy outfit or home decor.

Sunsetting a tradition is always sad, particularly when artists suffer, but as a business decision, it makes perfect sense to cut the pianists. Perhaps they will hire them on for special occasions or holidays, but it is highly likely that the pianist days at Nordstrom are over.

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Written By

Marti Trewe reports on business and technology news, chasing his passion for helping entrepreneurs and small businesses to stay well informed in the fast paced 140-character world. Marti rarely sleeps and thrives on reader news tips, especially about startups and big moves in leadership.



  1. agbenn

    February 4, 2013 at 10:26 am

    Truly sad, especially during the holidays. Nordstrom is by far a benchmark for service, and those little special touches, let’s hope the trimming ends there.

  2. rolandestrada

    February 4, 2013 at 2:41 pm

    I’m a huge proponent of technology but this seems wrong. I guess it’s modern version of the classic American Bandstand line – “It’s a nice song but you can’t dance to it”. I guess younger shoppers need a little groove to get their shopping done.

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