Leadership & The Death Spiral of San Francisco

I’ve been very down on San Francisco recently, and then the biggest blow came yesterday with the closing of the Flagship Nordstrom Store here. I’ve gotten so many messages and texts from people about the closing because I worked there for three months.

Even though I own a sailing apparel brand I didn’t know much about retail, selling, or running a store. One day I was walking through Nordstrom to buy a birthday present and saw they were having a hiring fair. I was interviewed and hired on the spot. I think in many ways taking this part-time job was a way for me to not only get a better understanding of retail but to adjust to having an empty nest. I could not fathom spending so much time alone at home without my daughters. At the time I was teaching leadership and management classes at UC Berkeley online. Therefore, it was an insurance policy against loneliness and it definitely filled my life with interaction and actually a lot of fun.

Nordstroms was not the same company we all knew and loved and had changed greatly. Seeing this iconic brand take such a nosedive from its exalted reign for many years was eye-opening. When you walk through the employee hallways there is a quote painted on the wall that says, “Nordstroms Cares.” After several weeks I would walk by and say to myself “Nordstrom does not care.” Another quote painted on the wall told us to smile because it was contagious. This of course made me scowl.

I knew that things had changed, but I didn’t know how much until the store manager wanted us to win a contest so we could buy a microwave for our breakroom. I could not believe that all of the people that worked there could not heat up their lunch! Luckily, I could walk home for lunch. I would make myself a salad and an omelet like the French and have a cappuccino before returning to my shift. My days there were very interesting, to say the least. It was not like the old Nordstrom, but I pretended it was and treated customers really well and our store manager would read the comments from my customers at our all-hands meetings. As an instructor of leadership, I enjoyed watching our store manager lead and especially enjoyed my assistant manager who had to take over when his boss was out on medical leave which was most of the time. Both were truly fine examples of great leaders in difficult situations especially our 23-year-old assistant manager who stepped up and managed four departments while also being a full-time student. I also enjoyed many of my co-workers and the security guards. We had a great deal of theft, suicide attempts, and just utter chaos, but the people that worked there were trying really hard to make it better and Issac our assistant manager really shined as a leader. He was one of the most naturally gifted leaders I have seen and had a very unique and effective style of management. He is heading to law school, but I know that whatever he chooses to do will he will be great and it will be far easier than his role at Nordstrom.

“A growing number of retailers and businesses are leaving the area due to the unsafe conditions for customers, retailers, and employees, coupled with the fact that these significant issues are preventing an economic recovery of the area,” — CNN

On many levels, I enjoyed my time at Nordstrom. I was exposed to things I had not seen before and learned a great deal about selling and retail. I also saw some really amazing leadership at that store and people who rose up to meet really difficult challenges and were able to reassure the people around them.

BART director Bevan Dufty said data shows the number of daily exits at BART’s Powell station, which is connected to the Westfield mall, has been less than half of its pre-pandemic level in recent months.

At the same time, Westfield employees have relayed “really heartbreaking stories” about mentally ill people “creating havoc and very threatening situations” at the mall, Dufty said. — SF Chronical

No regrets again for my time there and living in this crazy city. It has definitely been an adventure just not the adventure I expected.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this:
search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close