Last Friday, the new Nordstrom at the Americana at Brand opened to the public with a flourish. All three stories of the 135,000-square-foot building were packed with hundreds of potential customers ready to drop some cash at the store's 10 a.m. opening.
But that was after its grand-opening gala a few days before. For those willing to spend $100 a pop, hors d'oeuvres, dinner, dessert, cocktails and live entertainment were readily available.
But first, champagne. Guests were served by waiters balancing glasses of the bubbly on trays. Also available was the chance to be among the first to shop in the shiny new store. Shopping, however, wasn't the order of the day. For the most part, more than 750 guests eschewed the retail in favor of sipping, supping and socializing with their friends.
The two organizations benefiting from the visitors' largesse were Ascencia, whose mission is to end homelessness in the greater Glendale area, and Hillsides, a Pasadena-based charity for at-risk children and families.
All of the gala's expected proceeds of more than $75,000 will go to the two organizations. The event was completely underwritten by Nordstrom.
The evening's honorary chairperson — actress Nicole Richie — showed up on the red carpet with the paparazzi hot on her tail, shouting commands that she pose this way and that. Richie didn't miss a beat as she responded graciously to the photographers' requests, but then ducked into Nordstrom's Bar Verde to get away from the limelight. Bar Verde is a full-service restaurant and bar.
Also in attendance were members of the fourth-generation Nordstrom family including Blake Nordstrom, Erik Nordstrom, Pete Nordstrom and Jamie Nordstrom.
More VIPs present were gala co-chairpersons Silva Hameline, representing Ascencia, and April Danz, representing Hillsides. Another member of the host committee was celebrity stylist Cher Coulter, taking her own turn on the red carpet.
More on the committee were Emily Henderson, Melissa Magsaysay, Anita Patrickson and Estee Stanley.
Among Glendale residents on the general committee who attended were Paula Devine, Debbie Hinckley, Mia S. Lee, Monica Sierra and Kathy Lefkovits, accompanied by her ever lovin' Bill Lefkovits.
Natalie Profant Komuro, Ascencia's executive director, was generously willing to pose for a photo in front of the step-and-repeat banner promoting the Glendale-based organization's 40-bed shelter for families and single adults that will be supported by gala proceeds. Ascencia's service and housing programs serve more than 1,200 homeless men, women and children.
Joe Costa, Hillsides' chief executive officer, reminded guests that the Pasadena-based organization is celebrating its centennial year. Hillsides' mission is to improve the lives of at-risk children and youth in Los Angeles County. Gala proceeds will help support a therapeutic music and arts program.
Spotted helping themselves to the dessert buffet were retired psychologist Dr. Marguerite and her husband, Dr. Robert Marsh, a retired surgeon who was most recently associated with Glendale Adventist Medical Center.
Nordstrom Inc. is one of the leading fashion specialty retailers based in the United States. Founded in 1901 as a shoe store in Seattle, today Nordstrom operates 247 stores in 33 states.