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Century 21 Department stores were a mainstay in NYC from the time they opened their doors in 1961 until their closure in 2020. At its peak, the company operated 13 locations in the United States and was renowned for selling top-quality designer merchandise at deep discounts.
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And believe us when we say – nearly every New Yorker has that one Century 21 find they love to talk about. So, imagine how excited residents are to know that Century 21 will reopen its financial district store on May, 16th 2023. We thought it was fitting to celebrate this momentous occasion with an article about the store’s history and the excitement surrounding its return.
My tip: this is my complete guide to shopping in NYC.
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History of Century 21 Department Stores
Century 21 was founded by Sonny Gindi, Al Gindi, and Ralph Gindi in New York City in 1961. The first store was located at 472 86th Street in Brooklyn, but its flagship location was at 22 Cortlandt Street in Lower Manhattan. The flagship location was the former home of East River Savings Bank, and Century 21 occupied four floors in the base of the 34-story tower.
This location became an emotional hotspot following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. After the first plane hit the building on that fateful morning, the store was evacuated and remained closed for five months following the event. In fact, the store sustained so much damage from the collapse of the World Trade Center towers that initially, the owners were unsure if they would remain on the site. However, after five months of extensive repairs, Century 21 reopened to the excitement of thousands of people who waited in line for hours to make a purchase so they could have a receipt from that date.
At its peak, Century 21 operated 13 stores, mainly in New York City. It wasn’t until 2014 that they opened the first location outside of the city, which was located on Market Street in Philadelphia. In 2016, they grew again with a store opening at Sawgrass Mills in Florida.
By 2016, Century 21 had many expansion plans, but none of these would come to fruition because the company filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2020. The bankruptcy was announced in September 2020, and by December 2020, Century 21 had shuttered all of its locations. Executives said this decision resulted from a lack of financial support from insurance companies during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Century 21 to Reopen Spring 2023
In May 2022, it was announced that Century 21 would reopen its Lower Manhattan location on May 16th, 2023. The legendary retailer has partnered with a premium experiences company called Legends to introduce an all-new shopping experience to the company’s faithful following of fans.
The exciting partnership will team Legends’ omnichannel expertise with Century 21’s ability to source luxury fashion at the best prices. This reimagined shopping experience will allow customers to shop the iconic brand in-store and online.
The Cortlandt Street location is set to span its original four main floors and will feature women’s, men’s, and kid’s designer footwear, apparel, accessories, outerwear, fragrances, and handbags.
Is Century 21 open again in NYC?
Not yet. It was announced in May 2022 that a new store called Century 21 NYC would open on May 16th, 2023.
Why did Century 21 close?
Century 21 was renowned for its 60-year run of offering top-quality designer brands at discount prices. The company was forced to close all of its locations in 2020 due to financial reasons stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic. Executives have said that their insurance company failed to pay the $175 million required to maintain operations.
Is Century 21 coming back to Bay Ridge?
Century 21 is still working out the details of its revival. However, the owners have said they are moving forward with a retail complex at one of its previous locations. According to Crain’s, ASG Equities, a real estate investment firm belonging to the Gindi family, recently bought an empty lot at 472 86th Street, Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. So, keep an eye out for updates!
Who bought the Century 21 store?
It was recently announced Raymond and IG Gindi are the sole owners of Century 21. Raymond recently reassured fans that even though it’s a revival, the company will stay true to its roots, which are synonymous with luxury and value.
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I'm a true New York fan! Not only have I visited the city over 25 times but also have I spent several months here at a time. On my blog I show you the best and most beautiful spots of the city, so that you have a really good time! You can also find lots of insider tips in our New York travel guide. Also check out my hotel finder for New York!