News Clips— May we help you?

NORDSTROM STOCK is tanking, down some 33 percent since last April, with 2000's dismal fourth quarter profits and earnings drawing the scorn of industry analysts. Already some are downgrading the stock to "sell" status while the company frantically searches for ways to help its ailing bottom line. Clearly it can't charge more for its wares, particularly as a possible recession looms ahead. Instead it'll be loyal Nordstrom shoppers who feel the pinch, as the company's vaunted standard of customer service has been lowered to cut costs. To illustrate, here are just a few exchanges overheard during a recent visit to Nordstrom's Seattle flag- ship store:

"You want a complimentary shopping bag? Try the Bon!"

"Would you like that gift-wrapped? Here's some duct tape and a piece of newspaper."

"Valet parking? Where do you think you are, Pacific Place?

"Yes, ma'am, for the last time, that dress does make your butt look fat."

"Free alterations? Only if you slip me an extra 50 bucks, pal!"

"Dissatisfied with your purchase for any reason? Sure, you can have a full refund—if you can get past our new Returns Department bouncers: Guido 'No Neck' Gambino and Freddie 'Fractures' LaMotta."

"Sure, you can have that in any color you want—so long as it's fuchsia."

"For the last time, jerk, I'm on my cigarette break, so find those Dockers yourself!"


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