In its 112-year history, Nordstrom has become well known for its piano players who typically bang out a mix of jazz, Broadway tunes and pop from a prominent position on the main floor. The pianos, however, are slowly being phased out.
According to the Tacoma News Tribune, Juan Perez, who serenaded Tacoma Mall Nordstrom customers for 27 years, was the latest pianist laid off. Like several other locations in recent years, the store will shift to piped-in recorded music that is seen as "more modern."
Only 30 of Nordstrom's 117 full-line stores have pianists now. Many of the newer stores never had a piano.
"It's a store-by-store decision," 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."
A petition to rehire Mr. Perez, whose final day was Jan. 27, was started on Change.org and has gathered 750 signatures. Wrote Karen Dyers-Clement on Change.org, "Do you realize that he is the single most well known employee of your long time and generational customers? He adds something intangible that a dollar value can't be placed on."
James Hoague of Bonney Lake, WA, added, "Only the last thing that is real and not new and cheap."
Several stories covering the exit of pianos explored whether having live music helped Nordstrom stand apart and supported its high-end positioning. Many spoke of the personal relationships many players developed with not only Nordstrom's core women shoppers, but the bored husbands who accompanied them. Larry Petty, who tinkled the ivories at the Dallas Nordstrom for two decades until he was let go last fall, quipped to the Dallas Morning News at the time, "I like to say I entertained more husbands than the Best Little Whorehouse in Texas."
What should Nordstrom do with its piano players?