Sitting on the sidelines isn't usually productive, so Nordstrom (JWN 0.24%) is joining the fight against COVID-19 by sewing masks for healthcare providers.

The national department store chain, which is typically recognized for its selection of designer goods, has closed all of its stores due to the coronavirus pandemic. It has committed to paying its employees for the duration of the closures, and CEO Erik Nordstrom and his brother, President and Chief Brand Officer Pete Nordstrom, will decline their salaries until September.

Masks being made for distribution to hospitals.

Masks being sewn by Nordstrom partners. Image courtesy of Nordstrom, Inc.

"During this challenging moment in time, we are looking at unique ways to help in our communities and highlighting how others can join together to make a difference," the company said in a press release. 

Nordstrom is the largest employer of tailors in the U.S., and it is working together with Kaas Tailored, one of its tailoring partners, to sew 100,000 masks for distribution to healthcare workers. These will be produced in California, Oregon, Texas, and Washington, sanitized by Kaas, and then donated to Providence Health & Services, which operates 51 hospitals across six states.

Galvanizing its customer base

Nordstrom is also encouraging its customers to get involved by participating in sewing efforts and contributing to nonprofit organizations that are helping those in need during this crisis. It has also suggested other ways people can help, such as donating blood, shopping for those at risk, and purchasing gift cards to use at restaurants when it becomes safe to eat out again.

Nordstrom stock began falling in sync with the rest of the market in late February as investors' coronavirus worries began to intensify, but its decline was much sharper. The retailer's shares were down 60% year to date as of Tuesday morning.