Nordstrom Rack (315 Radio Drive) opens Thursday, April 6 at 9 a.m. in CityPlace, Woodbury's new lifestyle center, also known as an open air conglomeration of strip malls.

The first Rack for the metro's east side is comparable in size to most other Twin Cities' Racks. Mall of America's Rack is slightly larger. The layout is more open in Woodbury, and it has several features worth noting: a larger kids section, three separate shoe departments (women, men, kids) instead of one larger shoe area, and a larger home decor section. Women's shoes also has a Designer Row section for higher-end brands. In the dressing room area there is a charging station for personal electronics. And there are several Express checkouts throughout the store. Guests raise a green flag on the Express counter desk to hail a cashier if one isn't nearby.

I was pleasantly surprised to see clearance racks in several departments, even though it's a brand new store. One suggestion to maximize the experience: Download the Nordstrom Rack app. It allows guests to scan an item not in their size to see if it can be found elsewhere at other Racks.

Festivities with music, coffee, and breakfast treats start at 8 a.m. Thursday. Customers will receive a raffle ticket eligible to win one of 30 $100 gift cards. One winner, the lucky ticket drawn at 8:25 a.m., will receive a $1,000

shopping spree.

The 100 acre CityPlace is made up of retailers and services not easily duplicated on the Internet. The Rack and not-yet-open Sierra Trading Post are the only clothing retailers.At the SE corner of Radio Drive and I-94, the center also includes Sur La Table/cooking school, Einstein Bros, La-Z-Boy Home Furnishings, Piada Italian Food, Caribou Coffee, Verizon Wireless, Bank of America, Wedding Day Diamonds, Cafe Zupas, MattressFirm, Chuck & Don's Pet Food, Spire Credit Union, CycleBar, Naf Naf Grill, Tu Nails, Qdoba Mexican Grill, and Residence Inn. Coming soon are Whole Foods (May 24), Sierra Trading Post and Tria Orthopaedic. Notice what's missing? An anchor. 

What's the center has instead are items that most people prefer to buy or experience in bricks and mortar: mattresses, food, banking services, fitness room, jewelry and furniture. 

If you start missing the mall, head across Radio Drive to Tamarack Village with Cub Foods, Home Depot, JC Penney and Dick's Sporting Goods. The good news? It's a mall and it's still thriving.  

Nordstrom Rack is Nordstrom's outlet store with items made specifically for the outlet and some items trickling down from the full-line Nordstrom stores. This is the Twin Cities' 4th Rack, including Mall of America, Knollwood/St. Louis Park, Arbor Lakes (Maple Grove). A downtown Minneapolis location is expected to open in the fall.

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