MIDTOWN, Manhattan -- They came from all over the world to say goodbye to Henri Bendel, the 123-year-old high-end luxury brand store closed its iconic Fifth Avenue location Thursday night forever, surprising some long-term customers who thought they had at least a few more days.
What made Bendels so special?
“The brown and white striped boxes,” Shelly Antebi, a Bendels shopper, told PIX 11 News. “Everything about the store, the whole aura of walking in and being on Fifth Avenue."
Bendels joins many other vanishing retailers on Fifth Avenue, Lord and Taylor, Ralph Lauren and The Gap, fleeing astronomical rents close to $3,000 a square-foot on the most expensive retail strip in the world.
But Bendel’s demise is more layered, falling victim to changes in consumer behavior with more shopping online and on their phones.
Plus, their owner wanted to focus on another of their beleaguered brands.
“The parent company also owns Victoria’s Secret which hasn’t been doing great so they have to direct their attention to fixing that chain,”
Daniel Geiger, real estate reporter/ Crain’s NY business, told PIX11 News.
Inside, as somber employees applauded one another, posed for pictures or waved goodbye. Outside loyal customers were equally nostalgic and wistful.
“15 years ago when I arrived in New York City, it was the first store I went into,” Lourdes Olvera-Marshall, a Bendel’s devotee, told PIX11 News. “And I always said if I could move my bed to the second floor, I’d be happy. The perfect mix of sophistication and fun."
Bendel’s other 22 stores close by Saturday, and the website will shutdown at noon on Friday.