Lord & Taylor flagship store locks its doors forever

Lord & Taylor’s flagship store on Fifth Avenue locked its doors forever after 104 years.

The venerable department store famed for its animated holiday windows closed down Wednesday afternoon, ending a blowout sale that left whole floors empty. By the end, clothes that once sold for as much as $100 were going for $5.99.

HBC has shuttered the flagship Manhattan store of its Lord & Taylor brand. Photo by randreu via Panoramio.
HBC has shuttered the flagship Manhattan store of its Lord & Taylor brand. Photo by randreu via Panoramio.

The 11-story building has been sold to the WeWork space-leasing company for more than $850 million.

Forty-five other, smaller Lord & Taylor stores remain open, mostly on the East Coast. In addition, Lord & Taylor-branded merchandise is being sold online through the Walmart website.

Patty Conte said the Fifth Avenue location was her favourite store and she came Wednesday “to do a last walkthrough.” She purchased some women’s shoes under a “buy one, get one free” offer, for a total of $25 plus tax.

For her, shopping online is not an option “because it’s important to feel the fabric and to try things on.”

The demise of the Fifth Avenue store reflects a shifting economy in which brick-and-mortar retail has taken a hit from online sales.

Hudson’s Bay Co., the Canadian corporate behemoth that has owned the brand since 2012, said it was closing the flagship and some of its other stores due to an “increasing focus on its digital opportunity and commitment to improving profitability.”

Founded in 1826 on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, Lord & Taylor was one of the nation’s first big department stores, run by two English-born cousins, Samuel Lord and George Washington Taylor. The store occupied several locations before 1914, when it moved into the building that fills a whole Manhattan block on Fifth Avenue at 38th Street.

The store scheduled its closing for 3 p.m., when customers were turned away. But the last door wasn’t locked till 3:22 p.m., giving those inside a few extra minutes to exit.

But this wasn’t going to be Conte’s last trip to Lord & Taylor.

“I live in West Hartford and there’s another one there.”

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