Clothing Retailers With Stores on the UWS In Financial Stress, Reports Say

It was clear that running retail operations in New York was going to be rough amid the coronavirus shutdowns. Reports this week indicate that longtime iconic retailers with Upper West side locations are facing serious difficulties. On the Upper West Side, some retailers have even boarded up their stores — evidence they’re looking at long closures ahead. The Real Deal reported on the latest for some big retailers.

J. Crew, which has 322 stores, is seeking $400 million in financing to fund operations during bankruptcy, CNBC reported. And Brooks Brothers is seeking to sell itself, a deal that could potentially be part of a bankruptcy filing, according to Bloomberg.”

J. Crew has a store in the Time Warner Center, and its Madewell chain recently opened a location at 211 Columbus Avenue.

Brooks Brothers has locations on Broadway and 87th Street, as well as Broadway and 65th.

Macy’s, which owns the Bloomingdale’s outlet on 72nd and Broadway as well as several BlueMercury locations in the neighborhood, has said it plans to reeopen all its stores in the next six to eight weeks.

The downturn could be even harder on small independent retailers, some of which have had trouble getting government-backed loans.

NEWS | 29 comments | permalink
    1. Wijmlet says:

      I feel for Brooks Brothers

    2. dc says:

      I still have a Brooks Brothers yellow seersucker shirt that I bought in the 1980s, when I started working in the city after college. Still looks good. Hoping BB and others survive.

    3. ben says:

      tbf JCrew’s downhill skid has been long time coming since at least 2015. covid19 is only going to mercifully and swiftly bring this slow painful process to an inevitable end.

    4. CCL says:

      Bricks & mortar retail was already on the precipice before corona pandemic. This has put them over the edge.

      But. Some local businesses are doing well because they converted to online sales adapting to the new environment and now are doing well even during these difficult times. For example, Frank Stella 81st & Columbus, reportedly has robust online men’s clothing sales.

    5. Sherman says:

      Unfortunately, since nobody is really going out anywhere there is little need to purchase new clothing, especially expensive stuff.

      These retailers will suffer for a while and might never recover.

    6. UWSmaven says:

      I don’t want to be a skunk at the picnic but I never understood even in good times why Brooks Brothers opened here, north of 86th, with its very expensive suits, jackets and dress shirts. It’s a great brand but there’s a big store at Lincoln Square. I have NEVER seen anyone inside this branch. I think they overexpanded, like so many, and would not have been surprised to see them close even before the pandemic struck.

      • MF says:

        Totally agree. I never understood that store in that spot. Now I guess they won’t be there for very much longer.

      • Carnival Canticle says:

        Brooks also has a large store at 86th & Madison, which would seem a more appropriate location for its clientele.

    7. Omar says:

      If you thought the blocks of the UWS looked desolate before, just wait until this government enforced shutdown runs its course. Our neighborhood will look like Detroit (only with rents 20 times higher). A complete disaster.

      • Paul says:

        Seriously, you would be thumbing through the pants at Brooks Brothers if not for the shutdown?
        And would enough people be shopping for the stores to be viable?
        Who are you kidding?

      • NYC10023 says:

        @omar
        government enforced shutdown?

        Do you not see that every other country in the world is in the same situation? You really think this is some US-exclusive shutdown to take your US-exceptionalism away?

        It boggles my mind how so many of my fellow countrymen feel they’re so much superior to the other humans on the planet. A temporary shut down, to save lives no less, is not the same as the gov’t shutting down every day life for a nefarious reason.

        That said, can’t wait to see you at Brooks Brothers & J Crew on opening day. I bet you’ve been itching to go

        • Ish Kabibble says:

          Well said. The political undertones are not so under….

        • sg says:

          Government Enforced Shutdown it is…they’re killing the patient to treat the problem. The overwhelming majority of those seriously impacted are either elderly (especially residents of nursing homes) or have co-morbidities. The better way to treat would have been to target those at risk groups.

          Consideration should also have been given (especially at the state level) to the differences between communities…what is needed for NYC (high density & a lot of people) is not needed for other regions of the state. Too bad that Democratic politicians never want to “let a crisis got to waste” and continue their incessant power grab!

          • Sarah says:

            Yeah, I’m sure Cuomo thought he could really increase his power by devastating the state’s tax revenues. A goal of every ambitious governor!

      • Tim says:

        A government enforced shutdown is EXACTLY what this is. If people’s feeling are hurt by that phrasing, so be it. And another poster wrote that the govt is killing the patient to cure the problem. Now THAT’S accurate! It’s time to reopen society and the economy. If some people want to continue hiding under their beds until NOBODY gets sick ever again, that’s up to them.

    8. Shawn Neilson says:

      The Brooks Brothers building (58 W 65th St) clearly is going to have a quite a few vacancies. Between Brooks Brothers and Le Pain Quotidien, half of the retail space in that building will likely be up for grabs again soon. Can’t imagine Bed Bath & Beyond will make it through this crisis either.

      • Paul on W 67 says:

        I was a regular BBB shopper but they closed in March due to the pandemic. While searching for Soda Stream refills, I found Basics Plus on Broadway at 83rd and they had everything I needed. Kudos to them for staying open and continuing to serve the neighborhood. Even through BBB is closer, I will continue to patronize Basics Plus when this is all over.

        • HelenD says:

          When I read things like this I find it very depressing because people couldn’t get food and meds in March yet you now plan to shop at BasicsPlus and NOT BBB because they didn’t stay open so you could get your soda stream. Puts everything into perspective. 🙁

    9. EdNY says:

      It might behoove commercial landlords to severly reduce rents or waive them entirely to help some of these businesses get back on their feet. The alternative would be to have empty stores no one wants to rent.

      • young_man! says:

        It might behoove employees to to severely reduce their own salaries or waive them entirely to help their employers get back on their feet.

        Do you think landlords have never ending buckets of money and zero expenses?

      • Robert Sheridan says:

        It’s more complex than that.

        Commercial building value is largely a function of rent roll.

        Many of those buildings have a mortgage on them, value based on the rent roll. Reduce the rent by 25%, likely puts the mortgage underwater relative to building value. This can have a domino effect in several directions – reconciling difference with bank (“margin call”) or on mkt. value if sold – which then suggests all similar surrounding buildings also are underwater relative to their financing. This has potentially very serious long term negative implications.

        • Jbird says:

          How does the mortgage get paid when the property isn’t rented?

          • B.B. says:

            Pssst!

            What is above those ground floor retail spaces?

            You’ve got residential multi-family, and mixed use. Latter have different finances than former.

            In case of rentals proper owner isn’t excursively relying upon rents from one or the other, but both. Residential OTOH is obvious that only source of income is what comes from rents.

            Co-ops have restrictions on how much income they can generate from commercial/retail space. Previous restrictions meant often most boards were happy to get any retail tenant whose rent at least covered their property taxes. When laws/rules were changed allowing a greater sum, that is where many retail tenants found themselves in trouble.

            Many of the buildings people on WSR and elsewhere rag on as “evil landlords” are actually co-ops. When leases came up for renewal board decided to raise rents (sometimes substantially), and businesses either had to pay or move.

        • Michael P Muscaro says:

          Unfortunately, that’s what happens when you buy at the top of the market. A lot of the buildings on Amsterdam, Columbus and Broadway were once family owned.

    10. Barb says:

      So sad. DeBlasio said yesterday NYC won’t reopen in months. What I am concerned about is that we have empty storefronts for a long time, then property values plummet and NYC will be the city that sleeps. I know people are leaving already, I am wondering if it would be a good idea to move now, because I doubt that until end of year anything will happen. Anyone any insight on that?

      • BronxBoy says:

        Barb: The real New Yorkers will stay. Best time to buy is when everyone else is headed for the exits.

    11. As someone who has been working on the UWS since 1989 as a Hairstylist I have a number of observations. First there is an overcapacity in many niches of the Service Industry. Hair, Nails, Pizza, Sushi, Poke, You name it.As soon as a trend hits there’s one on every block. (Meatball Shops, Frozen Yogurt,etc.) My second observation is that there are too many Retail spaces available, and that’s why there’s so many vacancies.New Buildings are adding to the Retail glut at astronomical rents. Add to that the approximate 30% online shopping that did not exist even 10 years ago combined with skyrocketing rents and now there’s excess overpriced Retail Inventory. Thirdly there are basically 2 economic tiers of UWS Residents: The “Veterans” who have managed to hang on despite soaring residential rents and white collar professionals who can afford million dollar apartments with thousands of dollars in monthly maintenance fees. Guess what? The “New” UWSers don’t have time to clothes shop in the neighborhood between work and family obligations. Hence the uptick in online shopping. Retailers determine where to put stores where they get the most hits from their Catalogs. Bad Idea, period. So now you have a tenant like Bloomingdale’s Outlet, which replaced Tower Records which was wiped out by internet sales as well. I don’t feel sorry for Victoria’s Secret. I shop for my wife at Towne Shop.I shop at (Soon to die) Fairway and Citarella. The corporate takeover of Retail Space has thankfully backfired, hopefully restoring the UWS to a “Neighborhood.”

      • BronxBoy says:

        Michael Muscaro:

        I agree with your points, save these two:

        Tower Records was near Lincoln Center, not on 72nd Street.

        I don’t think there’s a glut of retail space per se. For whatever reason, landlords vastly overprice their spaces and would rather keep them empty than let them out at prices that make sense for small businesses.

    12. Kunal Duddalwar says:

      Add to that exodus of students from the Universities in the neighborhood for an year at least.