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Takaskimaya Empties Out Fast

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Takashimaya says that it will close its Fifth Avenue store in June, but by the looks of what little was left after only a half a day of clearance, The Shophound would be surprised to see it last through the week. We missed what must have been a frenzied few opening hours of the Japanese department store's closing sale which started yesterday morning, and by the early afternoon when we stopped in, there were still busy Takashimayascarfcrowds picking through the seven floors of merchandise. We were told that some checkout lines had waits of up to two hours earlier in the day, particularly on the home furnishing floor where customers were filling cartons with dishes, flatware, table accessories and all manner of handmade ceramics. The sales staff did their best to maintain their exemplary level of service despite the store's impending doom. We were almost embarrassed to ask for a gift box for our purchase, but the cashier didn't bat an eyelash and gave us a box and tissue as if it were a full price purchase all tucked into one of the store's creamy heavy paper shopping bags with black tasseled handles, an icon for a certain set that will soon evaporate from the city's streets.

The mood among the customers was especially bittersweet as random chatting among those waiting to pay alternated between wishing that they could take better advantage of the sale (40% off everything in a place not known for heavy markdowns) and sadness that such a distinctive store was soon to vanish. Out in force were Takashimaya's loyal customers, easily identified by their esoteric Japanese-style clothes that perfectly reflected the store's lofty taste level. They commiserated with salespeople who thanked them for their loyal patronage over the years. Hopefully Bergdorf Goodman, Saks and Barneys will be able to absorb at least some of these displaced but well-trained employees as the fortunes of New York's other luxury stores appear to finally be on the upswing.

Takashimayashign Overall, the kind of manic, ruthless bargain grabbing that one expects from a closing sale was absent when we were in the store, partly because Takashimaya declined to engage a liquidator who would have turned the store into messy free-for-all with garish signs. As we had hoped, the store maintained its dignity, and the customers responded with the appropriate behavior. Public notification was limited to a discreet sign in the front window (at right) and a larger one inside the store's entrance. After all, Takashimaya, for all its business troubles, is not going out of business entirely, but simply shuttering its only store in America.

There are still a few good things left, but merchandise is going fast, and it's worth a visit just for one last look at a particularly fine store that won't be easily replaced, or maybe one more indulgent lunch at the Tea Box Café.

Takashimaya Closing Sale 693 Fifth Avenue between 54th & 55th Streets, Midtown

Closing Update: No Sale Yet, But A Gentle Reminder Comes From Takashimaya



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