Century 21 Plans to Close All Its Stores After 60 Years; ‘Insurers Turned Their Backs On Us,’ They Claim


By Carol Tannenhauser

Century 21, the discount designer department store, plans to close all 13 of its stores across New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Florida, including the one in Lincoln Square on West 66th Street and Broadway.

The 60-year-old chain has filed for bankruptcy, stating that the pandemic plus the failure of its insurance companies to pay any of the claims related to it, pushed the company over the edge. Century 21 is currently suing several of its insurance providers. They released the following statement:

“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,” said Century 21 co-CEO Raymond Gindi. “While retailers across the board have suffered greatly due to COVID-19, and Century 21 is no exception, we are confident that had we received any meaningful portion of the insurance proceeds, we would have been able to save thousands of jobs and weather the storm, in hopes of another incredible recovery.”

(Co-CEOs) Raymond and IG Gindi concluded, “From the bottom of our hearts, we thank all of our dedicated and hardworking team members for their countless contributions, including continuing to give 100% throughout this pandemic to take care of our customers and each other. We will be forever grateful for the vital role they played in building the Century 21 legacy hand in hand with our family. Together, we hope we can help our loyal customers create some final memorable Century Stories.”

Century 21 stores are currently open to serve customers. The Company is commencing going out of business sales at all of its locations and at c21stores.com. Shoppers will be able to take advantage of even deeper discounts on the designer brands they love throughout the stores and, for a limited time, online. Customers are encouraged to shop now while merchandise selection is best. The Company will continue to take necessary precautions to keep its stores safe for customers and employees.

NEWS, OPEN/CLOSED | 65 comments | permalink
    1. UWSHebrew says:

      My favorite men’s store in Manhattan, even if the selection went downhill after 9/11. Will be missed, but will anyone need lots of dress clothing with what Covid-19 has done to change the workplace?

    2. Steevie says:

      Too bad. Whenever I went into the store at 66th and Broadway there were a large number of European tourists. These tourists have not been here for many months due to the pandemic.

    3. Lucien Desar says:

      That is sad, I got a lot of cheap clothes on 66th St.
      Maybe this means that location can become a bookstore again? 🙂

      • SNY says:

        Yes, it would be great if BARNES & NOBLE returned to their beloved Lincoln Square location!!
        With their wonderful Cafe too.

      • C says:

        I was thinking the same thing hah. I loved that Barnes and Noble. After awhile, came to like Century 21, too. Another empty store. 🙁

    4. West Side Lifer says:

      Armageddon! Although I will say that the 66th Street store was a disappointment. Decent for accessories and some baby things, but no housewares, and the women’s clothing tended to be either down-market tacky or bizarre, overpriced and often shopworn.

    5. Steven says:

      It’s like a domino effect. If a big chain can’t make it, how can the smaller businesses? It’s so very sad.

      • Boris says:

        That’s not what domino theory means. Big stores’ closings would have to affect the closings of small stores to have a domino effect.

        Maybe what you’re trying to say is that big stores help small stores survive since they bring increased foot traffic to an area. That would be a good reason to welcome large retailers instead of calls to boycott them in favor of mom-and-pops.

    6. Christian Herzeca says:

      way back, C21 (and Syms) had great selection. and cheap prices. then only cheap prices. time for new blood

      • UWSHebrew says:

        Century 21 by the WTC during the 1990’s was the best designer clothes (men’s, I don’t know about women’s), with great selections for the best prices I’ve ever seen anywhere, including outlet stores. It was always packed with locals, bridge & tunnel, and tourists. I loved going there, the prices for Armani and other Italian ties and suits were incredible! A lifetime ago, and now, gone. Kind of how I hear older people talk about Horn & Hardart.

        • UWS_lifer says:

          Gotta agree with UWSHebrew here.

          The downtown location was legendary! I remember totally outfitting myself in great designer suits and dress shirts, ties, etc. when I was a young, broke law student in the early 90’s.

          I think I still have a beautiful Versace overcoat deep in my closet from those days. I guess now it’s “vintage”.:) hahaha

        • NotPeterSchickele says:

          Horn & Hardart lives on in P.D.Q. Bach’s Concerto for Horn & Hardart.

      • LL says:

        Yup. And Daffy’s. Lohman’s

    7. Tom says:

      Super convenient for basics like socks and underwear. Usually had good winter coat selection. So where to shop now??

      • Paul says:

        Depends on what you like. What Century 21 had, over the years, ranged from compete with Kmart or Target on up, and if you like the cheap stuff, then there’s Kmart or Target, and if you like the better stuff, there’s Macy’s and Bloomingdales.
        And (at risk of approbation), Amazon.

      • SNY says:

        I guess it’s Back-To-MACY⭐️S.

    8. Paul says:

      Basically they’re saying they wanted the insurance companies to pony up on the business interruption policies, and this time the companies said no.

      So the question now is whether there’s more to be made suing the insurers or hanging in and trying to compete with Amazon, Target, and Macy’s.

      And now that the country has had 5 months of Amazon only? It may well be that the sound decision is there’s more to be made suing the insurers.

    9. Suzanne MacAaron says:

      Century 21, where I outfitted my daughter to go away to college many years ago. We had Syms, Lohmans and Century 21 to explore and find great bargains. Now, the last of the three major bargain stores disappearing. The occasional super find was always exciting!

      • dannyb says:

        And, of course, Gramercy Park Clothes!

        • Steven says:

          And remember MernsMart?

          But as far as the major UWS closures:
          Gracious Home,
          Lowe’s,
          Lincoln Plaza Cinemas…
          ALL STILL SITTING VACANT & leaving a scarring and negative impression on Upper Broadway’s commercial business success.

          • Julia says:

            Mernsmart was affiliated with Syms–Merns is the real family name.

            • Cato says:

              Actually Merns was the name of the family’s original business, on Vesey Street. Sy then opened a competing business nearby. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sy_Syms (Wikipedia says Sy’s store was also on Vesey Street, but I remember it as being on nearby Murray Street.)

              The lawyers told him he could not use the family name for his new store, so he called it “Syms”. It was always my understanding that he made that up from “Sy” and “Marcy” “Syms”. Marcy was his eldest daughter who succeeded him as president of Syms on his retirement.

              Bottom line: Syms and Merns were not affiliated; they were outright competitors, though owned by related owners.

    10. Julian says:

      Wow there goes my lifeline as a thrifty shopper.Even my #1 place to go for mother’s day and christmas gifts. Will be sorely missed 🙁

      • lynn says:

        What about Bloomingdales on 72nd? I’ve only been there once, pre Covid, but I found a cashmere cardigan as a gift for 1/4 of the regular price literally on the first rack near the door and I still haven’t explored the rest of the store. Does anyone else shop there?

    11. D-Rex says:

      Terrible….

      I hope when the dust settles at least a couple of stores are able to survive.

    12. KS says:

      What a loss—in the early 80s I worked downtown at 195 Broadway and heard about the store with incredible bargains up a flight of stairs that you had to be in the know to find—couldn’t try things on—bring it back for exchanges——then they expanded and came back after 9-11 after being right there for the debris and destruction—had so many fun shopping trips particularly downtown—UWS location was just ok

    13. janis says:

      Sorry to see it go.
      Not that I had much luck in ladies clothing, although my husband bought shirts and a couple of sport coats.
      I do so much better at TJ Maxx, and now that we have the one on the UWS, I’m there pretty much once a week.

    14. grace says:

      As someone else mentioned, Century 21 hasn’t been its old self for a long time now. When I moved to NYC in the late 80s, I discovered the sport of shopping there along with Syms and Loehman’s. They were exciting and overwhelming to me as a newcomer (so was Zabar’s) — I had never seen stores like that, with such a wide range of fancy, exotic items. I worked near the World Trade Center and I would visit there on my lunch hour. Little did we know — that brick-and-mortar world where people read newspapers on the subway wouldn’t last much longer.

    15. Bernard Kabak says:

      The Gindis were community minded. A few years back, the Lincoln Square Synagogue, a congregation not far from Cent. 21, ran a program commemorating the killings by the Klan of Andrew Goodman (an Upper West Sider), Michale Schwerner, and James Chaney. The Gindis made a generous contribution to help underwrite the program.

    16. Joy Schwartz says:

      When I worked downtown, I would walk through the Century 21 Cortlandt Street store each morning on my way to the office.
      This was so habitual that my late husband, Itz, would say – if Joy doesn’t show up one day, they start to board up the windows
      I am experiencing the closing of Century 21 as a deep personal loss

      • Debbie Ditanna says:

        Me too Joy, I actually cried last night. I first shopped at C21 in the 80’s when I worked at the Trade center…I moved to lower Manhattan in 91 till 214 and it was neighborhood Saturday shopping experience .every week. Since moving uptown it is still my go to store for nearly everything. Life will go on of course but just a little less sweet. Another thing to miss…the list gets longer.

    17. DCKate says:

      Watch a megatron Duane Reade or CVS take its place. Barnes & Noble, lol.

      • Boris says:

        What type of retailer do you think is suitable for a space that large…a dry cleaner? a tailor? a bodega? Duane Reade and CVS serve very useful purposes as evidenced by their popularity and profitability. People need to stop living in the past and criticizing everything that doesn’t link back decades.

        • Steven says:

          Boris,
          Remembering the great stores of the past, those that enhanced our shopping experience for a couple of hours is not “living in the past.”
          It brought us joy – and GREAT retailers like the Merchant Prince Benjamin Altman certainly knew how to delight us…whether we made purchases or merely strolled through his store. This WAS the great New York!
          Think FAO Schwarz, Lord & Taylor and the extraordinary B. Altman & Co., Abraham & Straus and Ohrbach’s.
          The once fabled Avenues have either turned into an uninspiring bland boulevard of mediocrity with drugstores and banks or with extinct super high end storefront mausoleums with no customers inside.

          • Boris says:

            I don’t disagree with anything you say about the former glory of retail but cultural, societal, and family norms have changed and so has the retail landscape. The methods by which people shop suit their preferences and they don’t favor brick-and-mortar for numerous valid reasons.

            What I was primarily objecting to was the knee-jerk reaction that a DR or CVS would be detrimental to the neighborhood. Many would disagree.

          • Debbie Ditanna says:

            You are so right…I loved BAltman! FAO Schwartz was magical any time of the year!

        • Paul on W 67 says:

          According to Fortune, Nordstrom is looking to open more of their off-price Rack stores. Might that be a good location for them?

          https://fortune.com/2020/07/20/nordstrom-rack-stores-malls-sales/

          • Debbie Ditanna says:

            oh God nooooo! I hate that store. Nothing will compare..I will probably not shop there unless it makes financial sense Naybe it can be a mini outlet mall..with all individual space. William Senoma could take over there brands Pottery barn etc. People have no more..

          • MCofNYC says:

            What about a Primark?

          • West Side Lifer says:

            Or Saks off Fifth. They have quality at good prices.

    18. Betty Page says:

      Hopefully the Company will provide severance pay to its entire staff in each store for the time they have devoted to permitting Century 21 to be in business for all these years. The insurance company is correct in denying their claim for the entire Company bailout. Century 21 was considered affordable shopping, and should have kept their number of stores to a minimum. It’s up to the CEOs to use their personal finances to save Century 21’s chain of stores.

      • Steve says:

        Bring back Gracious Home!! Make it bigger and better! That’s the store I miss the most on the UWS!

      • Steevie says:

        People are talking about Century 21 as though it was a large national chain. They had 13 stores, not hundreds like Macy’s or Target or thousands like Walmart. Even the now defunct Modells had over a hundred.

      • Jeff Berger says:

        Hi Betty. No CEOs cannot put their personal money into the business. The purpose of a corporation is to keep business losses and liabilities separate.

    19. Benn Mitchell says:

      I think Trader Joe’s in there would be great.

      • Buddy Revell says:

        Why would they cannibalize their own business on 72nd street. Better opportunities to expand where they have no footprint.

    20. Jeanmarie E. Kricher says:

      I buy everything from this store, EVERYTHING. They carry expensive brands at 1/4 the price. I have shopped here for over 40 years. I’m sad to see them “close” (hoping, maybe,they could leave one store “open”.

    21. Max Van Gilder says:

      A truly unique store and a NYC treasure.
      I hope it is reborn. I hope the insurance company rots in Hell.

    22. JL Rivers says:

      TJ Maxx must be popping champagne knowing that the entire mid-range, discounted clothes category belongs to them now.

    23. Debbie Ditanna says:

      I am devastated, this has been my goto store(Lower Manhattan) for 30 yrs I am just beyond sad with this news.

    24. Nayeem Dorsey says:

      I am highly disappointed that Century 21 is closing. I’VE BEEN A customer for more than 10 years. Question I use to be in a shelter and they threw away more then $3000 worth of my clothes,everything from Century 21,at the moment I only have 3 outfits can Century 21 please help me with a donation.

    25. Lynn says:

      There was a wonderful piece in the NYT Review section of last Sunday, Sept. 6th, about shopping at Lord and Taylor’s. Many years ago, the New Yorker did a cover showing angels shopping in New York carrying shopping bags from stores that “died” many years ago, including DePina, Best, Bonwit Teller, and, of course, Altman’s. Beautiful, but sad.

    26. Stephen Brigandi says:

      I am sad to hear this. My Dad used to take me to Century 21 when it was a small store downtown. He would speak of the owners, the Gindi brothers. I used to look in their windows at Christmas time to pick what I wanted. I remember getting a tape recorder from there. Later, when the store grew, I would shop there for clothes, suits, shirts and ties. Thank you for 60 years of service. Peace and God’s blessings for the future.

    27. All this time.... says:

      I never been to Century 21. And all this time I thought it was a real estate store?

    28. Kiwicottage says:

      So sad for you and all employees. Always fun to discover new things in your stores since 1982.

    29. Laureene Jackson says:

      Thank you Cenutry 21 for offering great discounts customers need. My family is very sad to see your stores close. We shopped at Century 21 because we could depend on great quality and great discounts. We hope you win your court case agsinst greedy insurance companies tbat accept large premiums then turn their backs on yiu when you are hurtinf most.

      God bless your family. My family has treasured memories of shopping at your stores. We are thankful for the lovely merchandise we were able to purchase for our homes.

      Companies like Century 21 helped 🇺🇸 America. Saving money while putting clotbes on our backs helps us pay our bills snd feed our families

      This really breaks my heart. All the best to your family. I pray you can open another chain when the ecconomy recovers.

      Century 21 cared about their customers. The customers loved you for that.

      Thank you so much for adding quality to my life.

    30. Remember Peck and Peck and Arnold Constable ? They once had cashmere sweaters there and my aunt bought 40 . I still have one .We outfitted me for High school . I still have 2 skirts with the tags . They still fit .