For many years, Lord & Taylor sat at the corner of Fifth Ave and 38th Street in New York City. You would think that in the world of high-income earners in the City, the store would continue to prosper as it has for so many years. Unfortunately that has not been the case.
Fox News is reporting today that Lord & Taylor is planning to close its Fifth Avenue location. The windows at Lord & Taylor were one of the highlights of a trip to New York City during the Christmas season. I attended school in New York City and always looked forward to seeing the windows at Christmastime.
The article reports:
Lord & Taylor plans to close its longtime flagship in January after one last blowout sale. Next year, the 11-story, Italian Renaissance-style building covering a whole city block will be taken over by WeWork, the workspace leasing company.
About 40 Lord & Taylor branches will continue on elsewhere. Holiday window gazers will have to turn to competitors like Saks, Bloomingdale’s and Bergdorf Goodman, which competed with Lord & Taylor every year for the most eye-popping display.
The article explains changes in retail sales:
The demise of the Fifth Avenue store fits into the bigger picture of a shifting economy in which brick-and-mortar retail has taken a hit from online sales.
In June, Hudson’s Bay Co., the Canadian behemoth that has owned Lord & Taylor since 2012, announced it was closing various stores due to the company’s “increasing focus on its digital opportunity and commitment to improving profitability.”
WeWork and several investors aim to close the $850 million deal to buy the Fifth Avenue building by the end of January.
Founded in 1826 on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, Lord & Taylor became 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 opening at Fifth Ave and 38th Street in 1914 in a regal home that included a concert hall with a pipe organ, elaborate dining rooms, a gymnasium, and a doctor’s and dentist’s office.
Lord & Taylor established itself as a pioneer of holiday windows by adding motion to what had been static displays. During an unseasonably warm November in 1938, Lord & Taylor created a snow “blizzard” behind glass using cornflakes, with signs announcing “It’s coming! Sooner or later!”
Saks Fifth Avenue soon emulated Lord & Taylor with its own crowd-pleasing display. Other department stores followed. Over the years, the displays became a creative arms race, featuring the most lavish, fantastical holiday scene designers could imagine.
Theoretically this is progress, but Lord & Taylor on Fifth Avenue was a beautiful store, and it will be missed.