Century 21 Stores to reopen in NYC, internationally

Century 21 Stores, the iconic New York City bargain chain that closed its doors during the coronavirus pandemic, will reopen, the company's president said during a coronavirus briefing from City Hall on Wednesday.

Mayor Bill de Blasio introduced President Mark Benitez and said the announcement "grabbed at the heart of New Yorkers."

"Century 21 bore the brunt of this, a pandemic like so many other retail stores, they were going through so much," de Blasio said. "And we mourned when we heard that Century 21 wouldn't be around. But now Century 21 is making a New York City comeback."

Benitez promised that this won't be an "average comeback story in retail." 

"Century 21 is not your average retail," he said. "It is iconic."

Last year, Century 21 Stores — a destination for bargain hunters looking for fat deals on designer dresses and shoes, cosmetics, and housewares for nearly 60 years — filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and closed all 13 stores across New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Florida.

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At the time, the company, owned by the Gindi family, said that the decision followed nonpayment by the company’s insurance providers of approximately $175 million due under policies put in place to protect against losses stemming from business interruption. That insurance money helped it rebuild its flagship store, a magnet for locals and tourists in downtown Manhattan, after it was damaged by the 9/11 attacks.

"The outpouring of love and support from our beloved consumers has been nothing short of overwhelming. Those consumers travel from the East Side, West Side, downtown, across the U.S., and across the world," Benitez said. "Century is and always will be an icon, a beacon of hope just as much as they were shortly after the devastation of 9/11."

Many businesses have fled the city due to the pandemic. And major retailers, including Lord & Taylor and Macy's, continue to close stores.

Trae Bodge, a smart shopping expert, said the retailer has a better shot at a comeback than other chains.

"Because Century 21 specializes in off-pricing, they may have a better time of it than a high-end store like a Lord and Taylor," Bodge said. "The items are more approachable, more affordable. That's preferable right now as people struggle financially."

Century 21 has not announced when and where it will open stores. The management team is evaluating all aspects of the "thrill of the hunt," including locations in the U.S. and overseas, Benitez said.

"Those very details are currently being outlined and as soon as we can share more we certainly will," he said.

Additional reporting by Sharon Crowley.