Century 21, Fabled New York Bargain Destination, Is Closing


Century 21, the well-known New York low cost retailer chain, grew to become the most recent retailer felled throughout the pandemic, saying on Thursday that it had been pressured to file for chapter and would shut all 13 of its areas after failing to obtain cash from its insurers.

The retailer stated in a launch that its insurance coverage suppliers 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 government and a son of a founder, famous that insurance coverage cash had helped Century 21 rebuild after the Sept. 11 assaults 19 years in the past. 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 four,000 workers and introduced in about $750 million in gross sales final yr, plans to wind down its retail operations and begin going-out-of-business gross sales on-line and in its shops in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Florida.

Century 21, which isn’t related to the actual property brokerage of the identical identify, was based in downtown Manhattan in 1961 by two cousins, Sonny and Al Gindi, and rapidly grew to become referred to as a vacation spot for designer items at cut price costs. It was a pioneer of the now-ubiquitous off-price procuring mannequin, which incorporates nationwide chains like Ross, T.J. Maxx and Marshalls.

With its tagline “New York’s Best Kept Secret” and a flagship retailer close to the World Trade Center, Century 21 grew to become 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 sapna@nytimes.com.



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