The iconic Century 21 department store returned to Lower Manhattan on Tuesday after having closed twice in the last two decades.
May 16 marked the grand re-opening of the flagship store to the Financial District at 22 Cortlandt St., where the outlet looks to make a triumphant return. Known for offering high-end, off-price fashion for more than 60 years, owner Eddie Gindi became emotional at the return of the family-run business.
“We had no choice but to open up—We had no choice. We built a brand that is bigger than us. We built a brand that means… I told myself I wouldn’t cry,” Gindi said, wiping his eyes. “I can’t tell you how proud I am to see so many familiar faces here.”
Despite all of Century 21’s renown and success, it has also had its fair share of hardships. The store fought to reopen after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, with some of its workers even suffering from significant health problems in the years since.
Then in 2020, the company filed for bankruptcy and closed all 13 of its East Coast stores due to the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Making a return when so many other businesses have gone bust, Century 21 has now reopened, with several excited shoppers lining up outside Cortlandt Street Tuesday to be the first back inside. The new iteration houses four floors instead of the original six but promises to continue offering value and luxury.
Mayor Eric Adams also joined the ceremony, stating that he himself is a fan of the merchandise and has made several purchases at Century 21 in the past. Hizzoner not only called the FiDi store a tourist attraction, but also a difference maker in the lives of everyday New Yorkers.
“You’re a difference maker if someone landed an interview, you’re a difference between for someone who is getting married, how they felt when they walked down the aisle because they didn’t have a large amount of money to buy a tailored dress. You gave it to them at a price that they could afford, and then you smiled when someone said you know this is for my son who is graduating from college or high school,” Mayor Adams said. “I missed this store so much.”
The mayor purchased a shirt before the owners and store reps gathered together to cut a ribbon, officially marking the store’s return.