Long before The Bellevue Collection was known as the premier Eastside shopping center, Donald Elfalan saw the potential it had and began his career at Bellevue Square’s Nordstrom in 1991. Today, he’s the top salesperson for the men’s suit department.
As a men’s clothing stylist, Elfalan works with a variety of customers in the suit department, from CEOs and lawyers to everyday workers. His passion for clothing and fashion started in high school and eventually became what he described as his calling in life. While he enjoys styling outfits, his favorite part of work is creating relationships with clients. Elfalan finds joy seeing others satisfied with the way they look.
Learn more about his 31 year career at Nordstrom, how the pandemic affected his job and Elfalan’s favorite places in the heart of Bellevue.
Why is Nordstrom a great place to work?
Nordstrom feels like family because of how long I’ve been here. The great thing about the company is they take care of their people. It’s not just a job here, it’s a place where you can learn valuable skills like tailoring, fitting and how to give excellent customer service. I’ve been able to build a vast clientele at Nordstrom and work my way up.
How has the pandemic affected you?
In 2020, it was my worst year. The pandemic broke out, and business went way down. We even closed the store. While it was a scary time, the one good thing that came out of it was my family. I spent a lot of time with them, making TikToks, gardening more than I ever had in my life and relaxing. In 2021, I sold 1.8 million dollars in revenue, the most significant turnaround to date. It went down in history as my best year since starting at Nordstrom. Everyone started coming back and we saw an uptick of people coming into our store. The influx of weddings impacted our sales significantly, many of whom held off due to the pandemic. The Nordstrom in Downtown Bellevue attracts tons of people because our department has expanded and we have a more comprehensive selection. I feel like all those factors contributed to the fantastic year I had.
What advice would you give someone who wants to start a career like yours?
Before entering this job, you have to know what kind of person you are. Are you a people person? Do you like clothes? Are you going to be satisfied with what you do? All those questions are essential because this career is about building relationships and communicating with clients. It’s also about constantly styling others. You must love what you do to be good at it.
Why do you love working in Downtown Bellevue?
I love the style variety in Downtown. We have those looking for high-end designers and Italian luxury clothing, but we also have the occasional people who need essential everyday wear. I also love the beautiful greenery around. It’s one of the many reasons I love to work in Downtown Bellevue and chose the Pacific Northwest as my home.
Where are your favorite places to dine in Downtown?
One of the things we talk about in the men’s clothing department is food and sports, so I tend to frequent many restaurants around to give genuine recommendations. I love Daniel’s Broiler, their food is incredible and I enjoy the lovely scenery. I like 520 Bar & Grill, the atmosphere is friendly. 3 Pigs Bar B-Q is my go-to spot when I'm looking for great barbeque. I like Tavern Hall for their Philly cheesesteak and Cactus for their burritos for places close to my job.
Do you have a favorite place to shop in Downtown?
When you work in the mall, you tend to spend most of your time here. Suitsupply has an excellent selection of accessories. I buy some of my turtleneck sweaters from them and they have great pocket squares. I also like Express Men, they’re great for casual wear like jeans and sports clothing.
Can you name a hidden gem in Bellevue?
Toshi’s Teriyaki is a hidden gem for me. I’ve probably been going there since I started working in Downtown Bellevue. The lady that owns the place is so sweet, she always fixes me up the best teriyaki.
Where do you see Downtown Bellevue in 5-10 years?
I predicted years ago that Bellevue would grow faster than we could expect. Now, it’s one of the major cities in Washington. In the 30 years of being here, I can say that Downtown Bellevue will continue to keep growing and become a prime spot for people to live and work.
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