After a millennium of luxury retail, it's time to say goodbye to New York City’s shopping icon, Barneys. Since the 1920s, Barneys has been an iconic spot on the Upper East Side. It was often associated with Bergdorf Goodman and Henri Bendel (which also recently closed) as part of NYC’s luxurious “3 B’s of Retail.”
Why the closure after so much success and popularity? Unfortunately, Barneys was unable to keep up with the rise of eCommerce and its extremely high rent. The store filed for bankruptcy this past August and began to close 15 of their locations. They were given two choices: either find a buyer or begin liquidation. After that, the bidding process for who would save Barneys officially began. Sam Ben-Avraham, the investor of Kith, was one of the bidders who led an unsuccessful campaign to save this retail icon. Then, on October 25th, Authentic Brands Group (commonly known as "ABG") bought Barney’s for $271 Million. ABG reported that they would close the seven remaining stores, including the beloved Madison Avenue location that they would turn into a pop-up store. They also announced that they would license the brand’s intellectual property to its past rival, Saks Fifth Avenue.
But the store’s closing really represents the end of an era. Brick and mortar stores are failing at the cost of eCommerce. With booming online shopping websites such as Net-a-Porter, Shopbop, and Farfetch, it is clear that eCommerce is taking over.
Now I know what you’re thinking - SALES! The Madison Avenue location will remain open for liquidation sales in order to get rid of their merchandise. I went over to this location to check it out. I immediately noticed a gloomy ambiance in the store on a sunny Sunday in November, a time when the store would usually be packed and alive. As far as discounts go, they are currently offering 5-10% off most items, which is really not much when you can find the same item marked down even more online. The selection of merchandise left in the store isn’t too great, either. They claim that the store will have bigger discounts as we get closer to the holidays. However, it won’t really matter if they don’t have good inventory left.
It is sad to see such an iconic brand go. Barneys truly embodied New York’s luxury retail experience. We will miss you dearly. Goodbye, Barneys.