If the legendary Christmas displays do appear in Lord & Taylor's historic Fifth Avenue flagship windows this year, they will be the store's last. After selling the actual building to the voracious real estate consumer WeWork, the department store's parent company Hudson's Bay Co. announced last week that the store would be vacating the premises by the end of this year. To clarify, the chain is not folding, but this location (pictured above) along with a few other underperforming ones will be shuttering to try to stem some of HBC's recent losses.
While it is easy to get nostalgic about the departure of another of New York City's great retailers, one would have to note that this has not been as beloved a shopping destination as it's various owners over the years would have hoped it could be. The original plan was for HBC to simply maximize the building's value by selling it and leasing it back, a scheme that over the years has been frequently implemented. The Goodman family still owns the building that houses Bergdorf's where Neiman Marcus has paid its rent for decades. A similar arrangement exists at Bloomingdale's, and the initial plan for Lord & Taylor was for the store to be downsized, and for WeWork to lease out upper floors. In fairness, the mammoth store could easily have lost a few floors and consolidated its offerings for a more concise presentation and shopping experience, but, in the end, even that plan apparently didn't seem viable. While many retailers have been challenged by changing customer habits, this particular branch of Lord & Taylor also suffered from the same problem it has had for decades: Location, location, location.
One could argue that if the store had been situated a few blocks south at 34th street, which remains a teeming shopping corridor, it might have been able to survive, even thrive. By the time you get to 38th and Fifth, however, the crowds dissipate dramatically. For many years, Lord & Taylor had a genteel fellow anchor in B.Altman at 34th and Fifth, but that store has been gone since the late 80s early 90s department store bloodbath that also took out Gimbels, Bonwit Teller, Stern's and A&S. For a long time, shopping on Fifth Avenue was primarily concentrated in the stretch between Saks Fifth Avenue at 49th Street and Bergdorf Goodman at 58th. Thanks to chain stores like Zara, H&M, Urban Outfitters and others, the past decade has seen a resurgence that extended south to the New York Public Library at 42nd Street, but not to the one block further that would have brought shoppers to Lord & Taylor. It didn't help that the store's longtime owner, The May Co., seemed to have had a conflicted attitude toward what was supposed to be the crown jewel in its fleet of regional retail nameplates which have since been converted into Macy's branches. While they attempted to maintain the store's prestige with a continuing department of high-end designer women's apparel that was mostly ignored by its customers, they didn't bother to keep the store's interiors updated, allowing it to become increasingly dilapidated and outmoded. May was actually forced to sell the store when it merged with Macy's, and subsequent owners including HBC made commendable efforts to modernize, including major renovations that finally brightened the store's ambiance. Renewed emphasis on younger skewing merchandise and novelty departments would not, unfortunately, be enough to save the location, and by year's end, Lord & Taylor customers will have to make their way to Paramus, or Yonkers, or maybe Scarsdale, Manhasset or Garden City —New Jersey or New York, take your pick.
Lord & Taylor's historic store is not the only troublesome property that HBC unloaded last week. It also sold the flash sale retailer Gilt Group to its main competitor Rue La La. The once pioneering website had already fallen far since its heyday of discounted luxury designer goods when HBC bought it a few years ago. The hope that making it a more prestigious adjunct to its Saks Off Fifth outlet division did not pan out as the increasing scarcity of the prized designer labels it once sold in abundance made it hard to attract those wealthy customers that once descended upon the site at noon for its daily release of new merchandise. It seems unlikely that Gilt will be able to do that for Rue La La, but its new parent claims that it will maintain the two brands as distinct entities. Best of luck to them.
While the imminent arrival of Nordstrom near Columbus Circle has retailers reevaluating the retail potential of the Upper West Side, Barneys New York has quietly shuttered its location at Broadway between 75th and 76th Streets. The store was originally born in 2004 as a co-ed Co-op location and then transformed into a more luxe Barneys New York branded boutique exclusively offering women's merchandise featuring more expensive designer-level apparel, footwear and handbags. The problem, however, even in the store's initial Co-op days, has always been the mantra of real estate agents everywhere: Location, location location.
You don't have to be a real estate savant to know that an upscale apparel shop on the Upper West Side would belong not on Broadway, a stone's throw from Fairway, Zabar's and Citarella, but two blocks east on Columbus Avenue amongst the Rag & Bone and Theory boutiques. While Brooks Brothers appears to have found some success near Lincoln Center and also on Broadway in the 80s, fashion on Broadway has tended to top out at chain stores like Banana Republic and Gap. Even the fabled, sprawling Upper West Side mini-chain Charivari of decades ago kept its casual unit on Broadway while its directional designer boutiques were on Columbus —and that was in the go-go 1980s.
The location was never a winner for Barneys in either of its incarnations. As a Co-op store, it was the smallest of the spin-off chain's Manhattan branches, and made for a cramped shopping experience, even if its premium denim and somewhat more affordable contemporary fare was well-suited to the general demographics of the area. Despite only a smattering of upscale apparel retail north of Columbus Circle, The Upper West Side provides a wealthy customer base that has been traditionally under-served when it comes to fashion. As Barneys revamped its direction in 2013, the transformation of its Upper West Side shop into a more minimalistic women's-only boutique with luxurious designer offerings felt much more out of place with its four-figure handbags and stock of Manolo Blahnik heels on Broadway flanked by Lululemon and other more prosaic food and service merchants —the right store in the right neighborhood on the wrong street. Additionally, the store was never really big enough to reflect the full expression of the Barneys New York brand, which is associated with large, department-store sized locations. It was like a tiny Barneys that wasn't really much of a Barneys.
As you can see in the photo above, the former micro-Barneys' shelves and racks are now bare. Commercial Observer tells us that it closed on February 18th, but that the lease runs through the end of 2023. One would hope that a replacement tenant can be installed soon, but given glut of overpriced retail space that stands empty for extended periods of time all over Manhattan, the potential for it to become another white elephant storefront is unfortunately high.
We have been hearing about American Apparel's woes for so long that it is almost a surprise that it took the once innovative chain this long to finally shut down, which it is the process of doing right now.
We have certainly spent plenty of time going on about American Apparel various antics over the years, most recent it has been about the removal of its controversial founder and former CEO Dov Charney whose removal in 2014 shined a light on the company's worst attributes behind the scenes including not only his highly questionable work behavior and the environment it created, but, more importantly, his mismanagement of the retail chain which had grown larger than he was able successfully steward. It was an ugly fight and —long and complicated story short— he lost. New, more experienced management arrived, but the damage was more than they were able to repair, and after AA's most recent bankruptcy last year, the company's intellectual property and some of its equipment was sold for a mere $88 million to the Canadian company Gildan Activewear which was not interested in continuing to operate the chain of retail stores that in more optimistic days threatened to overrun New York City. While many American Apparel stores have already been closed through ongoing reorganization efforts, the rest will be gone in a few months. More upsettingly, Charney's pride and joy, his Los Angeles factory at which much of the company's products were made has been shut down. Workers spent Monday this week in lines at the facility to pick up their final paychecks. Monday's layoffs came to about 2,400 workers. No severance and likely more layoffs to come.
American Apparel joins a group of retailers who have seen a sad New Year including the final shutdown of the once dominant women's apparel chain The Limited and the announcement of major store closures from iconic American chains Sears and Macy's. Each of these companies have long been suffering from their own systemic problems, so it may be premature to announce a crisis for the retail industry in general, but the loss of 100 Macy's units alone is going to be a jolt to retail landlords who now have to either redevelop the spaces or attract a shrinking pool of large stores to try and fill all those square feet —not to mention finding new tenants for the newly or soon-to-be empty Limited and American Apparel spaces that dot shopping areas across the country.
Yes, we know the picture says Last 4 Days, but it was taken yesterday at the Scoop NYC in Brookfield Place which was looking more than a little depleted at the time. That leaves Today, Tomorrow and Sunday to say goodbye to a once beloved chain of contemporary boutiques the chain's most recently opened location. While nostalgia is in order, we have all had weeks to come to terms with Scoop's demise. The thing to do right now is what shopper do best, and that is to pick over its carcass like vultures looking for the best bargain. And it'll be tough, because there's not much left. Yesterday, the chain lowered final discounts to 50% to 70% off the lowest marked prices (which, as far as we could tell were only full prices), and a visit to the FiDi and Meatpacking locations showed some pretty picked over offerings, though, depending on your size, you might find a gem or two. Anyway, it's worth a stop by if you are in the neighborhood perhaps for a cheap t-shirt or maybe a couple of souvenir mannequins.
It turns out that the Brookfield Place store is the only one closing this weekend. The last two stores on Washington Street in the Meatpacking District and on Third Avenue on the Upper East Side are still slated to remain open for another month through the second week in July. Presumably, consolidations from other already closed stores in the chain will be funneled to them, so it's worth checking back, and it looks like there will be time for at least another round of markdowns before the chain's final swan song.
Today's Thursday Styles has a look back at the rise and fall of the Scoop NYC boutique chain that is currently in the process of liquidating, and the most significant bit of information it reveals is that the chain will finally shutter its stores on the second week of July. That gives it about eight more weeks to get rid of its inventory which should mean escalating discounts through the sale period. It's not exactly the best time to be liquidating, since Scoop will be competing with the regular seasonal markdowns in all of the other stores that have the same merchandise, and it will have to go a bit deeper than the 20% off it has mostly been offering for the past couple of weeks in order to compete with regular old sales elsewhere.
Otherwise, the story told in the article by former insiders is much as we have heard. The once hot chain lost a bit of its mojo when co-founder Stefani Greenfield departed and the up and coming labels it helped to discover became less exclusive and opened their own boutiques —generally in competing locations— and became mainstays in the burgeoning contemporary departments of major retailers like Saks and Neiman Marcus. Instead of replacing those maturing labels with newer, hotter ones, the store chugged along as a comfortable if less essential stop the millennial shopping tour until skyrocketing rents and ill-advised leases did it in Now there are eight weeks left to how much Scoop can slash its prices enough to make us all come back to clear its racks and shelves.
Liquidations are an inherently bittersweet stage of a store closure, but we will try to keep shoppers updated on just how much of a discount is being offered.
The Last Days of Scoop By Marisa Meltzer (NYTimes)
THE FAREWELL SALES:
Scoop Shifts Into Liquidation Mode While Carson Street Remains Serene At Half Price
It's going to be a sad couple months with some great bargains as New York says goodbye to a cornerstone of contemporary retailing along with a short-lived but much admired men's boutique.
Scoop NYC confirmed early Monday that all of its stores would be closing over the next several weeks and commenced a modest 10% off storewide promotion suggesting that it would be going the slow route toward clearing merchandise, but as regular, non-liquidating stores are set to release spring markdowns in a few weeks, it seems like an acceleration is in order. Today, The Shophound was notified that storewide discounts have risen to 20% off with certain categories like boots and off-season accessories discounted 30% to 40% off the lowest ticket prices. We didn't see anything that had been previously reduced, so it would appear that most everything offered is still marked at full price, but the ugly liquidation posters are up in the windows, and when we stopped by the Third Avenue Scoop on the Upper East Side (pictured above and below) merchandising was being reorganized on the racks by category; dresses over here, pants over there, etc. At this point, the discounts are not extraordinary, but it may be worth it to venture forth to save a little on certain non-seasonal items that rarely get discounted like certain shoe and sneaker styles and other accessories. Further reductions are sure to be on the way , but regular Scoop fans should know that the most recent sale notice was sent to Shophound email as a press notification and specifically not to the personal email which is on Scoopnyc.com's regular mailing list. This may be because Scoop's e-commerce website has been closed entirely aside from a landing page that will direct you to the nearest store. The G.O.B. sale is now exclusively brick-and-mortar, so don't wait for any big discounts online, but, since it is not a court-ordered bankruptcy liquidation, the store is still accepting any remaining gift certificates.
The other big goodbye this season is to the short lived but much loved Carson Street, (pictured below) which notified its customers that its entire stock is now a tough to resist 50% off. We stopped by on Monday afternoon to check it out in person and found the store locked and dark at what seemed to be a reasonable shopping time. We were a bit perplexed as to how its clearance would be handled. Online only? We made our way there again this afternoon, and found it open as normal. You would never have known that there was a closing sale going on. The store seemed as tranquil as always, and full of lots of designers that aren't widely distributed, or discounted, and certainly won't found at half price at this point in the season. On the racks as usual were labels like Lemaire, J.W. Anderson, Jil Sander, Greg Lauren, Tim Coppens, Tomas Maier, Umit Benan and Ami to name just a few. Anyone who is a fan of more directional menswear should make it their business to get down to Carson Street's Greene Street store posthaste, although, if you can't make it down to SoHo, its e-commerce site is still up and running and featuring the current discount.
So that's the clearance report for the moment. We will do our best to keep you as up to date as possible on these bittersweet sale situations.
Much admired men's store Carson Street announced that it would close its doors at the end of June after just over three years in business.
Originally opened on Crosby Street as Carson Street Clothiers (pictured at right), the store recently made a major move to a larger but somewhat more out-of-the-way space last Fall coinciding with a new abbreviated name and distinct change in direction from a modern, updated classic point of view to a more progressive style. Perhaps it was too much change too fast. Trouble seemed to be brewing earlier this week when cofounder Brian Trunzo announced his exit from the company to pursue his own projects. The store's 2013 debut was highly anticipated by industry watchers as an audacious project from menswear fans but retailing outsiders Trunzo and Matt Breen. The shop's construction was chronicled on Esquire.com, and was greeted with praise when its doors finally opened featuring a well edited assortment of the most favored menswear designers of the moment displayed in a welcoming setting featuring a cozy lounge and friendly salespeople. The location was smartly chosen as Crosby Street became home to more and more complementary stores like Saturdays NYC and Miansai. The arrival of Seattle's Totokaelo last fall seemed to solidify the street as a prime destination for shopping, but Carson Street was already planning to relocate to a block of Greene Street that was further off the beaten path of shoppers.
A new, separate wholesale collection called Deveaux was launched earlier this year at New York Fashion Week Men's for this fall, which may have been one complication too many too many for the still growing company. That business will continue even as the store closes, and is expected to be found at Totokaelo, United Arrows and Spruce according to WWD.
The Shophound will miss browsing through Carson Street's racks, and its always sad to see a promising shop depart before its time, but the predictable silver lining remains what will have to be an excellent G.O.B. sale over the next couple of months.
In another sign that the flash sale online shopping model has peaked, Amazon announced today that its MyHabit off price portal will shut down at the end of May. A relative latecomer to the flash sale game, MyHabit debuted in 2011, while sites like Gilt and RueLaLa were thriving, but as the field became oversaturated with too many players fighting over too little bona fide designer merchandise, the fascination with limited online sales cooled. Relative latecomers like Vente Privee bowed out without gaining any traction, and now MyHabit is following it, while Amazon focuses its fashion attention on its other, more full line businesses like ShopBop and its men's counterpart East Dane.
We will miss MyHabit. While the competition was definitely tough, the site managed to regularly offer a good selection of high-end merchandise at deep discounts from luxury brands like Ferragamo and Balenciaga as well as European designers like Jil Sander, DSquared2 and Rick Owens. At this point, however, it seems clear that even the preeminent flash sale sites are either winding down or becoming adjunct to larger, full service off price retailers like Haute Look's joining with Nordstrom Rack and even the once mighty Gilt's recent link-up with new sibling Saks Off-5th. Though My Habit was always connected to Amazon —you could even use their gift cards to shop on the site— its latecomer status kept it from taking advantage of the peak of the flash-sale craze. Its departure may, however, allow for more prized designer goods to be available to the remaining sites like Gilt and RueLaLa, so perhaps there's still hope for remaining flash-sale fans.
In case anyone thought that moderate contemporary brand Vince Camuto was a little bit downmarket for Madison Avenue, you were probably right. It looks like the brand has ditched the flagship across the street from Barneys that was once the home of the respectable Cole Haan, leaving it to the suitably exclusive Smythson of Bond Street. The prestigious British stationer and accessory purveyor will shortly be opening its new store there having relocated from the Crown Building on West 57th Street. Trading "across the street from Bergdorf's" for "across the street from Barneys" is probably something of an even swap, prestige-wise, and the windows on the corner of 667 Madison Avenue tell us that the new store will be open in March.
But isn't it a little bit snobby to suggest that department store mainstay Vince Cameo's premium line isn't up to snuff for Madison Avenue? After isn't DKNY just on the other corner of the block with chain store Ann Taylor just across 60th Street?
As part of the brand's ever more radical-appearing revamp, DKNY has abandoned its three-level Madison Avenue showplace, the last vestige of Donna Karaon on the street, leaving its SoHo store on West Broadway as its primary flagship home. As you can barely see reflected in the photo of the shop door below, the large Ann Taylor store has also been emptied out and is available to lease. Now there are two rather sizable retail spaces available in particularly desirable locations waiting for some deep-pocketed companies to swoop in and install some new flagship-sized stores. Who will move in, or more to the point, how long will those stores sit empty before someone coughs up the dough to move in?
WEST VILLAGE INS & OUTS:
Paul Smith Is In
Mulberry, Black Fleece & Marc Jacobs Men's Are Out On Bleecker
Mulberry, Black Fleece & Marc Jacobs Men's Are Out On Bleecker
Remember when Bleecker Street was such a hot retail address that the older stores were being pushed out and replaced with new designer boutiques at a breakneck pace?
Well, that's over.
As luxury labels retrench in the face of economic uncertainty, Bleecker street is suddenly looking less like a hotspot and more like a tony neighborhood in a holding pattern, perhaps a couple of years behind the neighboring Meatpacking District where once precious retail space is now available in greater abundance. Since the Holiday season, A few more Bleecker Street storefronts have gone empty. Mulberry has quietly exited its outpost at 387 Bleecker leaving it with larger stores on both Madison Avenue and Spring Street in SoHo. Perhaps a tiny store that benefited from Bleecker Street's hotspot-of-the-moment glamor is no longer such an imperative when there are other bigger stores in more heavily trafficked neighborhoods with more potential for sales volume and brand visibility.
Mulberry is not the only company reconsidering its retail strategies. Marc Jacobs is in still the midst of re-inventing his own label. Since the Marc by Marc Jacobs label that made up most of his Bleecker Street stores' offerings has been discontinued, his West Village colony of shops is in a transition of its own. It was always a kind of free-flowing arrangement with stores regularly switching places. With Want Les Essentials de la Vie having already having taken over one of the designer's former shops, the latest branch to bite to the dust is the teeny tiny men's store whose windows are now blacked out. That leaves Jacobs with only his original shop at 403/405 Bleecker, Bookmarc across the street at #400 and the beauty store at #385, which is still a strong showing, but we are still wondering how things will settle retail wise for Marc. His men's store has always been problematic. Having bounced around from one of Jacobs' West Village locations to another, it always seemed to wind up in the same stall-like space that could only hold a few customers at a time and seemed like a poor setting for one of America's premier designers to present his collections. Part of this probably results from the fact that Jacobs has been candid over the years about his personal disinterest in menswear as a designer. He rarely if ever wears his own brand, preferring more attention getting outfits from labels like Comme des Garçons and most recently being very vocal about buying copious amounts of Alessandro Michele's first Gucci collection. His lack of interest is reflected at retail where the label has little traction in menswear, and industry watchers are wondering if the men's division has many more seasons left at all without stronger direction. Closing its store couldn't be seen as a sign of faith in the division.
While once it was incredibly difficult for a retailer to even acquire a space on Bleecker Street in its most desirable stretch between Christoper Street and Hudson Street, now a prospective retailer has something of a selection. Since Brooks Brothers has sadly discontinued its Thom Browne designed Black Fleece collection, its boutique at 351 Bleecker at the corner of West 10th Street has also been shuttered leaving another prime spot open, and more space at 345 Bleecker will be available soon as Comptoir des Cotonniers has posted a closing notice in the window of its unit there. In addition, the empty where the neighborhood favorite Manatus Restaurant once served up classic diner fare is still empty after it was forced out nearly two years ago in hopes of attracting a higher paying tenant who has yet to show up.
It's not all bad news, however. As promised, Paul Smith has opened up a temporary store at 357 Bleecker Street (pictured above) to replace his original Flatiron store. As reported, it's smaller than the shuttered lower Fifth Avenue boutique, but Smith promises a bigger permanent unit on the way. So far the store is only carrying early Spring deliveries heavy on his lower priced label, PS. Perhaps even after a more impressive space presents itself, Smith, who has also streamlined his profusion of labels, should consider hanging on to the Bleecker Street store as a PS-only shop. It would fit in perfectly with the street's more recent focus on slightly more accessible designer labels, and it would fill up a shop that might otherwise not find a tenant a swiftly as it might have a few years ago.
See a gallery of closing notices after the jump.