Back to the Future: Barneys to Open New Store in Building Where it Was Founded

In a serendipitous twist, the ultra-luxe retailer will reopen a second New York City flagship store in the very building where its business was founded in 1923.

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By Geoff Weiss

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Following a stellar sales year, storied retailer Barneys New York is slated to open yet another flagship store location in New York City--in the very building where Barney Pressman founded the company in 1923.

Barneys will reclaim the five-story, 57,000-square foot space in New York's Chelsea neighborhood from Loehmann's, the off-price department store chain, which filed for bankruptcy for the third time on Monday and is in the throes of liquidation.

The new store is slated to open in 2017, exactly 20 years after Barneys left the space amid its own bout with bankruptcy.

The move will not affect Barneys' uptown flagship store on Madison Avenue, which is five times bigger than the planned Chelsea location and this year posted "the biggest numbers we've ever done," the company's chairman, Richard Perry, told The New York Times.

Related: How to Establish Retail Store Policies When Just Starting Out

Perry cited Chelsea's comparatively low rents and the absence of local luxury retailing competition there as motives for the move. And for Mark Lee, Barneys' CEO, the reopening signifies a "comeback," he told Women's Wear Daily, as the retailer has shuttered an astonishing 16 stores in recent years.

Barneys was founded as a men's discount clothing store in the 20s, after Pressman pawned his wife's engagement ring to lease the 17th Street space. As one of New York's foremost retailing entrepreneurs, Pressman is credited with being one of the first to employ radio and television ads. He also hired women to dress in barrels and distribute matchbooks stamped with the store's name and address.

Pressman's son, Fred, transformed the business from a discount men's clothing repository to a mecca of luxury upon taking its helm in the late 50s. In addition to stocking obscure and elite menswear designers, Barneys also expanded its offer to include women's clothing, housewares, cosmetics and gifts.

Geoff Weiss

Former Staff Writer

Geoff Weiss is a former staff writer at Entrepreneur.com.

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