https Century 21, Fabled New York Bargain Destination, Is Closing | Trending News

Century 21, Fabled New York Bargain Destination, Is Closing


Century 21, the famous New York discount store chain, became the latest retailer felled during the pandemic, saying on Thursday that it had been forced to file for bankruptcy and would close all 13 of its locations after failing to receive money from its insurers.

The retailer said in a release that its insurance providers had not paid about $175 million due Century 21 “under policies put in place to protect against losses stemming from business interruption such as that experienced as a direct result of the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Raymond Gindi, a co-chief executive and a son of a founder, noted that insurance money had helped Century 21 rebuild after the Sept. 11 attacks 19 years ago. Now, he added, “our insurers, to whom we have paid significant premiums every year for protection against unforeseen circumstances like we are experiencing today, have turned their backs on us at this most critical time.”

The chain, which has about 4,000 employees and brought in about $750 million in sales last year, plans to wind down its retail operations and start going-out-of-business sales online and in its stores in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Florida.

Century 21, which is not connected to the real estate brokerage of the same name, was founded in 1961 by two cousins, Sonny and Al Gindi, and quickly became known as a destination for designer goods at bargain prices. It was a pioneer of the now-ubiquitous off-price shopping model, which includes national chains like Ross, T.J. Maxx and Marshalls.

With its tagline “New York’s Best Kept Secret” and a flagship store near the World Trade Center, Century 21 became a New York institution. The designer Zac Posen told The Wall Street Journal that the retailer had introduced him to shopping for fashion, saying, “I got some of my greatest and most cherished fashion pieces there,” and the store was a common reference in pop culture.

“The next day the verdict was in. Century 21, the downtown discount store, was the best part of jury duty,” the character Carrie Bradshaw said in a voice-over in one episode of HBO’s “Sex and the City,” as she ambled through the store.

“Century 21 stores represented the quintessential New York deal,” said Vincent Quan, an associate professor of fashion business management at the Fashion Institute of Technology, who advised Century 21 for many years. “It was the place to go for a deal on fashion merchandise and luxury goods.” He added that people could sometimes find brands like Armani and even Christian Louboutin there.

“In stark but not unrealistic terms,” the company said, “the choices government makes on program eligibility will make the difference between bright, vibrant city streets and boarded up stores for the 2020 holiday shopping season.”

Contact Sapna Maheshwari at [email protected]



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