Patneaude retires from Nordstrom after four decades of style

Longtime Magnolia resident Sue Patneaude is set to retire from Nordstrom.

Effective March 1, Patneaude-who has served as Nordstrom's executive vice president of women's designer apparel-will call it quits after almost four decades of service for the retail giant. She joined the company in 1968 as a saleswoman.

Patneaude, 59, had a hand in developing the designer apparel business at Nordstrom. She also launched the Via C departments in 2000, and she played a prominent part in creating the concept for the new designer category that Nordstrom is launching online next month.

"This is a very addictive business," Patneaude said. "It's almost impossible to leave it when you love it. I decided at some point that I wanted to do something else. The business is strong and the team is experienced. If not now, then when?"

In 1992, Patneaude left her position to spend more time with her family; she returned a year later.

"She essentially invented the designer division," said Pete Nordstrom, president of full-line stores. "We were always considered an underdog and she has really had to persevere. There wasn't a roadmap-she had to invent it. She has been sensational in how she has represented the company and forged relationships."

Patneaude was on Nordstrom's first buying trip to Europe in 1970; in 1973, she became buyer for the collectors department. In 1981, she was promoted to merchandise manager in designer apparel and, in 1985, to vice president, corporate merchandise manager for designer apparel and bridge.

Patneaude has been overseeing the store's collectors and couture departments as vice president of women's designer apparel since 1997. She was named executive vice president in 2003.

"My goal was to create an even playing field for our company in the designer business," Patneaude said. "Sometimes that was challenging because we were new to that business, and because others were more established.

"My greatest satisfaction is that today, the market and customers consider us a top designer player.

"I have always said, 'If you're bored in retail, you are in the wrong business,'" she added. During her retirement, Patneaude said she hopes to spend more time with her parents, as well as her 22-year-old daughter Danielle and her 16-year-old Dalmatian, Princess Dotterina Angel Bear. She will remain in Seattle and hopes to devote some time to charity.

"I have never had that luxury," she said. "I'd love to do something with animals and the homeless. But on March 1, I am going for a two-hour walk for some fresh air."[[In-content Ad]]