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Attention, bargain shoppers — the much loved, erstwhile discount designer destination Century 21 is getting a restock. Women’s Wear Daily (WWD) reports the COVID-shuttered department store plans to reopen its flagship FiDi location in 2023.
Retail and hospitality firm Legends, the management company behind merchandising at the MLB flagship on Sixth Avenue, Yankee Stadium, and One World Observatory will partner with Century 21 to create a trimmed-down version of the original department store, with a focus on men’s, women’s, kids apparel, outerwear, accessories, handbags, shoes, sunglasses, and fragrances.
Raymond Gindi, co-chief executive officer of Century 21, told WWD: “This is very exciting for us. This is a family business, founded by our father, so it’s not only a business decision, it’s an emotional one, too. We also owe it to our customers. Keeping Century 21 going is something we have been pushing toward ever since we closed.”
Founded in 1961 by Raymond’s father Ali Gindi and cousins Sonny and Ralph Gindi, Century 21 grew from its original location in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn over the course of 60 years to a mini-empire of discount designer duds throughout New York as well as New Jersey, Florida, and Pennsylvania. Offering discounts from 40 to as much as 90 percent off brands like Chanel, Calvin Klein, Vera Wang, Ralph Lauren, Valentino, and Prada, Century 21 made as much as $700 million at its peak.
The store’s impact was also more than financial to many New Yorkers. Its Financial District store, adjacent to the World Trade Center, became a symbol of resilience in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, when thousands of New Yorkers lined up to celebrate its reopening after significant damage.
In March 2020, the Gindis shut down operations, and filed for bankruptcy in September 2020, citing a loss of $175 million in pandemic insurance that was not paid out.
In 2020, CEO Raymond Gindi said: “While insurance money helped us to rebuild after suffering the devastating impact of 9/11, we now have no viable alternative but to begin the closure of our beloved family business — because 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.”
With the assistance of a silent partner, the Gindis managed to buy back their intellectual property to the tune of $9 million. According to WWD, the company is now entirely owned by Raymond and IG Gindi, who serve as co-CEOs, as well as cousins Eddie and Isaac Gindi.
Raymond Gindi told WWD that despite the reworked revival, Century 21 will remain “true to its DNA, one synonymous with value and luxury. Customers want to know they are getting value and like to hear numbers,” added Raymond. “It is important to convey specifics around the value we are providing. We will still provide the treasure hunt, but with less of the hassle. So it will be more treasure, and less hunt.”
While unclear whether additional locations would follow, for now, it seemed that New Yorkers were thrilled to hear of the institution’s return.
And as the Gindi family said in a statement on the company website, “Century 21 Stores will continue to be a family-run business with a name synonymous with value and luxury. Never count out a New Yorker.”