Forthcoming in California Management Review (2016)
A Nordstrom customer in the mid 70s walked into the Fairbanks, Alaska store and asked to “return” two worn snow tires. An awkward moment! Nordstrom, which evolved from a shoe store to a department store, never sold tires (although another company once did at the store site). Despite that fact, the salesperson that had been on the job only a few weeks, relying on a customer-first culture supported by a generous return policy, had no doubt what to do. He promptly took back the snow tires and refunded what the customer said he paid. The co-founder of Nordstrom, John Nordstrom, is said to have witnessed the event. The Nordstrom story brings to life the generous return policy; the customer supportive culture; and the authority, competence, and attitude of the sales people.