Interview: Steve Wilkos

The Manager
Photo by Rachel Coward

Photo by Rachel Coward

Nordstrom has been a part of Bellevue Square since 1958. Over the years it’s morphed from a shoe store into a major department store that’s welcomed fashion icons like Diane von Furstenberg and Jason Wu. Steve Wilkos has been the store manager there for a little over a year. While he has a big job, he likes to have fun with it. Here’s what he had to say about leading a team, dressing well, and his love of Aerosmith.

Q: Where did you grow up?
A: Colonia, a small suburban town in New Jersey outside of New York City.

Q: How did you make your way to Nordstrom?
A: I read a book called Best Retail Companies to Work For. I decided if I wanted to work in retail, I wanted to work for the best. They hired me to sell men’s shoes in July 1991. I am glad they did.

Q: What’s something surprising about Bellevue Nordstrom that people might not know?
A: (You can) buy online and pick up in store. A customer can buy something on our site, and pick it up at our Service Bar or even pull up to the curbside pick-up parking space and we’ll bring it out to them. Also, a fun fact: Each one of our three levels is the size of a football field.

Q: What are some of your tactics for inspiring the team?
A: It’s about one team, all serving the customer — relying on each other, taking care of each other, ultimately to take care of the customer.

Q: Nordstrom has a reputation for great customer satisfaction. How do you keep people happy?
A: Thanks for saying that. We empower our salespeople to take care of the customer. Service is our number-one goal.

Q: What’s the key to looking your best? Advice?
A: I’m surrounded by really cool stuff all the time, and I use a stylist in our store that helps me put it all together. Advice? Dress for yourself, not others. You have to feel good.

Q: What’s your work/life balance like? How do relax?
A: It’s excellent. I believe in faith, family, and work. I coach both my boys’ baseball teams. I make my family a priority. Relaxation for me is spending time with my wife, Sue, and my boys Steven and Tyler — and yes, I’m an Aerosmith fan.

Q: What’s your favorite dish at The Grill at Nordstrom Bellevue?
A: That’s hard. I like them all. It really depends on my mood. The burger, the grilled vegetable salad, and fish and chips are some of my favorites. If my wife is reading this, it’s always the grilled vegetable salad.

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is the managing editor at 425 magazine. Email her.
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