This beloved New York department store returns from the death of a pandemic

The pandemic and the changing face of retail have been particularly hard on the US department store.

Once-iconic institutions like Lord & Taylor, Brooks Brothers and Neiman Marcus were on the verge of bankruptcy. And more than 200 department stores have permanently closed between the time covid-19 hit the United States in 2020 and today.

Although less well known in the rest of the country, one particularly strongly felt loss was New York’s Century 21. Founded in Brooklyn in 1964, the department store chain sold designer brands like Dior. (CHFRF) and Givenchy up to 80% off, earning it a permanent place in the hearts of fashionistas.

As the flagship location was near many Lower Manhattan courthouses, HBO’s Carrie Bradshaw (HBO) “Sex and the City” once said that shopping there “the best part of jury duty”.

Does it really come back?

But while Century 21 was beloved by both New Yorkers and visitors to the city, its business model of having customers rummage through shelves for that golden find couldn’t survive the pandemic. At the end of 2020, the chain filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and closed all 13 locations in New York and New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Florida.

The potential for a comeback was still in the air as the Gindi family, led by original co-founder Sonny Gindi, purchased the store’s intellectual property rights during bankruptcy proceedings.

But as Century 21 first committed to an online and physical return in 2021, plans stalled and the main location in the Financial District remained eerily closed despite the construction of a 60,000-foot building. squares in the financial district of the city.

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Expectations were finally confirmed when, this week, the department store announced that it would reopen that location in the spring of 2023 and rebrand itself as “Century 21 NYC” in a nod to its hometown.

“In our 60-year history, we have only closed our doors twice, once after the devastation of 9/11 and then again during the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Raymond Gindi, co- CEO of Century 21, in a press release. . “But like the true New Yorkers that we are, we persevered.”

So when can I get this discounted Gucci?

The store is currently not revealing whether other locations will open or how it will ensure profitability, promising more details in the coming weeks.

One of the supposed reasons for the bankruptcy had to do with the inability to track online purchases – before covid-19, the Century 21 site was secondary to the physical location where bargains could be found.

Retail management company Legends is partnering with the Gindi family for “in-store upgrades and an elevated e-commerce presence.”

“Working side-by-side with the Century 21 team, we’ve enhanced the in-store and e-commerce experience and are excited to ‘open the doors’ to a global audience in 2023,” said Dan Smith. , president of Legends Hospitality.

Will it be the same Century 21 that many knew and loved?

A lot has changed in the nearly two years since Century 21 first closed its doors. Department stores that are doing well, like Nordstrom (JWN) – Get the report from Nordstrom, Inc.focused on offering in-store pop-ups of curated selections and in-store customer “experiences”.

While the lure of expensive goods at lower prices may attract in a way that outweighs all other “experiences”, Century 21 will also have to change its strategy so as not to repeat past mistakes or rely solely on the return of in-store purchases for profit.