Employees past and present gather to say goodbye as Nordstrom shuts its doors

ANCHORAGE - (KTUU) It's still tough for some dedicated shoppers to accept that the downtown Nordstrom is closing. The store has been a place where fashion transactions have taken place for more than 44 years, but it's also a place where friendships took place.

Long time employees past and present got together Thursday for one final farewell to the place where they've shared countless memories, before Nordstrom shuts its doors. Clara King organized the get together for the group. She worked at the Anchorage Nordstrom in the fine jewelry department for 21 years.

"A lot of us are still in touch. Even after being gone all these years we're still in touch, and needless to say, we're going to miss this place," said King.

It's not only a place where employees became family, but a place where customers became friends.

"That's been the best part of the job, getting to know, not only my employees, but the customers," said current employee, Rosemary Leary. "They mean a lot and I think us closing has been sad for the customers. It's a way of life, starting with our children growing up coming here to shop. Having Santa Claus over the years here. Many things have been traditions. So it's hard. It's hard to let go of that."

The group shared memories and hugs over lunch at the Nordstrom Cafe. It's a group with a combined 325 years of employment with the company.

"That tells you a little bit about what Nordstrom was like to work with," said former employee, Jane Henderson. "People didn't come and go so much. They stayed. It wasn't a job. It was a career, and we loved it."

A job that was more like a career, at a place that became like a second home for former employees.

"The reason I stayed at Nordstrom for so long was that I can be a loner real easily, but every single person that I know in town will show up at Nordstrom at some point, so I'd never lose contact with all the friends and people that I know, because they're always going to be here at some point," said former employee Nancy Brunner.

Not only former employees, but also current employees like 82-year-old Rosemary Leary who transferred to Anchorage when the Fairbanks location closed -- she says she didn't stay because she needed the job. She says she's stayed because she loved the job.

"I will say, I love coming to work," said Leary. "I love answering the phone, and I've made customers my friends over the phone because I did not know anyone when I moved here, and so I will miss all of that, but you can't work forever and at 82, I guess I'll retire!"

Nordstrom will officially shut its doors in Anchorage on Friday, September 13.

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