Century 21 is gearing up for its long-awaited return to New York City next week, one year after the off-price retailer announced its comeback.
Last May, the New York-based retailer said it had teamed up with premium experiences company Legends to introduce a “revitalized shopping experience” in-store at its longtime Cortlandt Street flagship store as well as online.
At the time of the announcement, co-CEO Raymond Gindi said in a statement that he “could not be more excited to bring Century 21 back home” to New York. “Century 21 is, and always will be, a New York City brand. Our flagship store has been a long-time symbol of this city’s resilience and unwavering spirit. In our 60-year history we have only closed our doors twice, once after the devastation of 9/11 and then again during the COVID-19 pandemic. But like the true New Yorkers we are, we have persevered.”
The closure of the retailer came in Sept. 2020 when Century 21 filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, which led the company to shutter all 13 of its locations across New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Florida.
During the bankruptcy process in 2020, the Gindi family, which owned, operated and founded the famous off-price chain, bought back the intellectual property for $9 million, together with a silent partner. However, the business is now entirely owned by co-CEOs IG and Raymond Gindi, and their two cousins, Eddie and Isaac Gindi.
So, as Century 21 department store prepares to reopen its flagship at 22 Cortlandt Street on May 16, here is everything you need to know about the opening.
The soon-to-be-reopened Cortlandt Street location will have a smaller footprint than before. Judy Duzich, Century 21’s VP of merchandising, told FN in an interview that the store is now roughly 100,000 square-feet, down from the previous 250,000 square-feet before the closure.
“The store used to be six floors, but we are condensing to the four main floors of the original downtown space,” Duzich said. Men’s, women’s and children’s designer apparel, footwear, outerwear, handbags, accessories and fragrances will all still be part of the mix, but some categories have been phased out. “We will no longer have our home section or large makeup counters, but we do have a great NYC-themed gift area in the store,” Duzich said.
Duzich, who has worked for the retailer for 30 years and was one of many employees that came back during the relaunch, noted that the assortment is now more curated and will emphasize a “treasure hunt” shopping experience.
“Shoes and kids are on the lower level, with our core handbags and accessories on the main level,” Duzich noted. “Women’s will be the entire second floor and men’s will live on the third floor.”
According to Duzich, the company had to “reconsider” the floor plan now that there is less space but expect to see more modern design with a much brighter store. “We have a lot more lighting now,” the executive noted. “We also pulled the cash registers out to sit near the exits of each sales floor. Out fitting rooms are larger with full-size mirrors and better lighting. And, we will have an express check-out on the main floor in order to minimize some of the pain points that customers had in the past.”
Duzich pointed out in the interview that Century 21 Stores decided to rename itself for the reopening. The retailer is now known as Century 21 NYC. “As a New York based company, it was important to us to acknowledge our legacy by changing the name,” Duzich said. “We’ve also added more New York-based brands to the store throughout all our divisions, and some NYC-themed giftables like mugs and t-shirts. This is our ode to New York.”
The shoe selection will be divided into designer and contemporary spaces. Duzich said consumers will be able to find shoes from designers such as Bottega Veneta, Versace, JW Anderson, Gianvito Rossi, Proenza Schouler, Tod’s, Santoni, United Nude and Larroudé.
As for the contemporary section, Duzich called out brands like Allbirds, Schutz, Ugg, Dolce Vita and Steve Madden. “I feel like we have an array of all the top brands on the shoe floor with multiple trends, like evening dress shoes to Western-inspired items, offered throughout.”
On May 16, Century 21 will host its grand reopening event filled with experiences. Customers can expect fashion Illustrations by Izak Zenou, a runway inspired photo booth, a personalization station with NYC themed patches and pins and classic local bites. The retailer will also have a “Wheel of Deals” prize wheel, which will feature prizes that include NYC experiences, dining, hotels, gift cards, and more.