The outdoor center is 1.4 million square feet (130,000 m²) and includes four major department stores: Bloomingdale's, Macy's, Neiman Marcus, and Nordstrom. Stanford Shopping Center also includes such luxury retailers as Louis Vuitton, Tiffany & Co., Burberry, Cartier SA, Michael Kors, and Wilkes Bashford. Ermenegildo Zegna, and Sprinkles Cupcakes will be opening stores in the near future in the shopping center.
In 1954, excavators broke ground on what was once Leland Stanford's vineyards. Nine buildings housing 45 businesses were built. The Roos Brothers clothing store opened as the first retailer in September 1955 and Blum's restaurant opened on October 22, 1956, marking the completion of the center. Board of trustees Chair Lloyd Dinkelspiel and university President J.E. Wallace Sterling presided at the opening and Shirley Temple Black cut the first slice of a nine-tiered cake. San Francisco department store The Emporium and luxury specialty department store I. Magnin & Co. were the original anchors.
The center opened with great success and became one of the largest sources of unrestricted income for the university.
Macy's California joined the center in 1961 and Saks Fifth Avenue opened a store in 1962. Further expansion came again in 1972 with the addition Los Angeles-based Bullock's, owned by Bloomingdale's parent company Federated Department Stores. Bullock's only lasted 11 years, closing its northern California stores in 1983 and selling its Stanford location to Nordstrom, which opened in November 1984. Neiman Marcus became the sixth anchor in August 1985.
Saks Fifth Avenue closed its store in 1994 and was replaced by Crate and Barrel and Andronico's food market. By 1995, Federated Department Stores had acquired the Macy's, I. Magnin, and Emporium chains. As part of the company's rationalization, the I. Magnin chain was closed, and the location at Stanford became a separate Macy's men's store in 1995. The Emporium store was shuttered and rebranded as Bloomingdale's in November 1996, this being the first northern California location for that division of Federated.
Stanford shopping center was also the home to the very first Victoria's Secret store, opened by Roy Raymond in 1977.
The Apple Store Stanford Shopping Center is notable in its own right. In 2002 the Stanford Shopping Center became the founding venue for the annual Mall Crawl a very popular event which features a bar crawl style trip through the many drinking establishments located on the mall's premises.