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Bye Bye Barneys, Hello Barneys?

NYC, Other, Real Estate Developments


Two weeks ago, when we discussed the sale of Saks Fifth Avenue and WeWork’s repurposing of Lord & Taylor, we also noted the ongoing bankruptcy of a third New York City icon, Barneys. Reports have now been swirling since last Friday, when the bankruptcy sale of Barneys went through for close to $300 million to Authentic Brands Group (ABG), a licensing company that owns brands such as Juicy Couture. Along with the outpouring of disappointment that the famous store will cease operations and that virtually all of the store’s 2300 employees will be let go, a number of different possible directions for the brand and building’s future are being floated. All of the following possibilities represent a different direction from what we have seen at Saks and Lord & Taylor, with interesting implications for retail and real estate in New York. [1]

The first widely-reported idea is that Barneys will close all its stores but live on as a brand name, potentially with clothes and other items sold in still-standing department stores like Saks through a licensing agreement. This plan rests on the belief that the Barneys name will hold its cachet despite losing its physical location. The second plan being reported is that the Barneys building will be repurposed as a four-floor “pop-up retail experience”. Whether this means something different from a shopping mall or collection of boutique retail stores is in the eye of the beholder but reports that famous lunch spot Freds will remain open in its location at Barneys points to this continuation of commerce in the store’s old space. Whether or not the new owners of the floorspace will be able to succeed where so many others have failed remains to be seen, and it will be fascinating to see whether the store will truly get a new lease on life after this dramatic change. [2]

[1] Friedman, V. and Maheshwari, S. (November 2019) Barneys Is Sold for Scrap, Ending an Era from NYT Accessed November 4 2019

[2] Tuder, S. (November 2019) Iconic Power Lunch Spot Freds Will Survive the Downfall of Barneys from Eater NY Accessed November 4 2019

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