Century 21 returns home to NYC after bankruptcy closure

Arianne Gonzalez, Arts & Culture Editor

A New York icon is coming back to open its doors to the public.

Century 21 Department Stores LLC announced that it will reopen a physical location at its “flagship location” across the World Trade Center on Cortlandt Street.

The store originally opened in 1961 and was founded by cousins Al Gindi and Samuel Gindi. The department store found steady business by becoming known for its deep discounts on designer fashions.

But as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the company declared bankruptcy in September 2020 and shuttered all of its 13 locations.

“Century 21 is, and always will be, a New York City brand,” Century 21 Co-CEO Raymond Gindi said in a press release.

Gindi cited that there were only two occasions in its 60-year history when the flagship store closed: after 9/11 and during the pandemic.

“But like the true New Yorkers we are, we have persevered,” he continued. “We could not be more excited to bring Century 21 back home, delivering the same products and value to customers.”

Most locations were in the New York City metropolitan area, with others located in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Florida. The department store had 1,400 employees at the time of closing, according to CNN.

The main reason cited for closing was the failure of the company’s insurance providers to pay approximately $175 million “under policies put in place to protect against losses stemming from business interruption,” from the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, following its declaration of bankruptcy, the chain announced that it would be returning to the retail industry in 2021. There were plans to not only reopen stores in the United States but expand internationally as well. A new brick-and-mortar location was set to open in South Korea late in the same year.

The company said in a press release that it partnered with retail management company Legends, combining its“omnichannel operating experience” with Century 21’s “expert curation of designer brands at amazing prices.”

“Legends is proud to partner with Century 21 to bring the beloved retail experience back to New York City,” Dan Smith, the president of Legends’ hospitality division, said in a press release. “Working side by side with the Century 21 team, we have enhanced the in-store and e-commerce experience and are excited to ‘open the doors’ to a global audience.” 

The company is set to open its original location in 22 Cortlandt Street, which it retained even after closing the shop for $9 million, according to the New York Post.

The store will open four floors of its location and will offer designer apparel, accessories and fragrances in departments for men, women and children, according to Bloomberg. The flagship store is slated to reopen in spring 2023.

Along with reopening, the company will include “NYC” in its logo to emphasize its roots in the “Big Apple.”

“I’d shop there on my lunch break and bump into my board members and former colleagues,” Jessica Lappin, the president of the Alliance for Downtown, which manages the downtown-lower Manhattan business improvement district,told the New York Post. “Lower Manhattan has really missed that store.