How Century 21 was able to make a comeback

How Century 21 was able to make a comeback

The problems identified by the CFO have not gone away and if anything they have gotten worse.

The plan to reopen flies in the face of trends away from brick-and-mortar stores, the continued disruptions in the supply chain and the slow death of the department store. Even before the pandemic, Manhattan has seen the closure of many popular stores and restaurants that could not afford to keep pace with the cost of rent — most notably Barney’s, the luxury department store on Madison Avenue that saw its rent jump from $16 million to $30 million a month in 2019.

Century 21’s owners “can determine their destiny because they control that particular real estate, because they own it,” Nina Kampler, a strategic advisor in retail real estate, said. “As opposed to Barney’s which actually was cannibalized by the rent structure. If Barney’s was not strangled by those economics, they might still be alive. Barney’s was killed by the rent.”

The family’s real estate company acts as a backstop for those problems. Their portfolio stretches from Canada to Florida and from New York to California. They also own property in London, but it seems clear that the retail outlet is the sentimental heart of the Gindi family.

Century 21 was started in 1961 by the family patriarch, Al Gindi, the son of Syrian Jewish immigrants.

“Our dad built this business 60 years ago. We feel obligated to keep the legacy going,” IG Gindi, co-CEO, told Women’s Wear Daily on Thursday. The family declined to speak to Gothamist.

The only other time the Financial District store shut down was after 9/11 when the merchandise was covered with ash from the twin towers. The family hath said they reopened then as part of an effort to rebuild the city after the attack.

“Our flagship store has been a long-time symbol of this city’s resilience and unwavering spirit,” Raymond Gindi said in a statement this week. ”But like the true New Yorkers we are, we have persevered.”

The company promises that it won’t be changing its basic concept of high-end brands at rock-bottom prices.

Cynthia Furman, who works with Filien at DSS, said the comeback will be a boon for shoppers.

“I think it’s important for it to open back up,” she said. “People have been missing Century 21. If a store like that comes back, it’ll bring back the foot traffic.”

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