MANHATTAN — It was the end of an era Wednesday as the oldest department store in the country opened its doors for the last time.
Since 1914 the Lord & Taylor building has stood tall on 5th Avenue, home to the high-end department store that once took up 10 floors of the building. Shoppers made their final purchases at the flagship store Wednesday. It was sold last year.
“We’d come here at 10. We’d listen to them open the doors with the national anthem and spend hours here,” said life-long shopper Linda Silver.
Shoppers like Silver say the store became a part of their lives throughout the decades.
“I remember I got my furniture here when I got married years ago,” Silver said.
Lord & Taylor was the first department store to offer personal shoppers and Silver says they kept up that standard of service to the very end.
“This is my go-to store. It’s all my friends go-to store,” she said. “Everybody I speak to is devastated by this.”
For the last seven years, Rich and Nancy Haig made the store their regular meeting spot in the city.
“We both work in the city and we meet up here for lunch once a week and have yogurt together,” Rich Heig said.
It wasn’t just a place for lunch.
“Baby gifts, children’s gifts, anytime we had gifts this was the place to go,” Nancy Heig said.
On the final day at the store, Lord & Taylor had a display urging loyal customers to continue to shopping online. Online shopping was one of several reasons they’re closing the brick and mortar location. But those who’ve shopped at the flagship location for years say you just can’t get the same experience on a computer.
“You get to touch things. You get to try them on,” said Silver. “You get to come out of the dressing room and say, ‘how’s this look?'”
“The new stuff, the stuff on trend you won’t see it. You see that stuff in stores,” said Isabell Qui a former employee who came back to take pictures at the store.
The co-working company WeWork will take over the building after buying most of it for $850 million. Lord & Taylor’s parent company Hampton Bay’s will retain part of the building where they’re expected to open a much smaller store, with big shoes to fill.