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Goodbye To A New York Icon – The Partnered Pen


As Barney’s says goodbye, it leaves a fashionable legacy.

Photo credit: Edward Anderson

In years past, one only needed to walk past Barney’s New York to catch the holiday spirit. The flagship store was the epitome of consumerism and made the case for capitalism. It seemed the dream would never end.

But as with all good things, the end crept up slowly. Sales declined year after year. Many of New York’s elite that once frequented, now get their clothes directly from the designer. The middle man is no longer a necessity. And arguably is a deterrent for discerning consumers. The writing was on the designer decorated walls.

Going Out Loud

Any socialite who has watched their candle burn out will tell you, going out quietly is the best way to be forgotten. Instead, making a scene and leaving some memorable drama is the way to go.

Barney’s is nothing, if not a grand New York socialite. The first bit of drama came when people including sales associates didn’t know whether their stores were going to open or not. Some were told that they had worked their final shift, with the implication the stores were going to be closed.

Noone associated with Barney’s would comment but a source told me HR used it as a way to get to of salespeople managers were not happy with. Plenty of managers have pulled the same trick millions of times. In this case, there may have been a nefarious reason for it though.

Every Dime Counts

There were still parties interested in buying the iconic store and keeping open. Getting rid of the dead weight or employees who didn’t add value not sunk the bottom line might make a deal more palatable.

While there were several offers, one lit up the New York media like none other. Sam Ben-Avraham threw his hat into the social media ring, in the hopes of a bankruptcy judge approving his bid.

Thy did not happen. Many critics called it amateurish and an unfunny joke. Authentic Brands Group walked away with the pieces of Barney’s. And like so many electronics on websites like OfferUp, it will be sold off for parts.

But before the end of the journey, there had to be one last dramatic moment.

Early Goodbye For An Old Friend

Mark Strausman ran Fred’s restaurant for nearly 30 years. He began to worry about the future of his business and Barney’s as a whole a few years ago.

In 2012, Richard Perry’s hedge fund took over Barney’s. Shortly after that, changes were made to Fred’s menu. The coffee brand was switched, and in one extreme case that caused conflict: chicken livers were taken off the menu. Strausman fought back and the liver was returned to the menu.

Shots were fired. After the chef gave a damning interview to a New York outlet, he was escorted out of the store by security guards and informed his services were no longer required.

Goodbye Barney’s

The iconic retail store will serve New York and tourists one last holiday season. After the first of the year, whatever is left of the store will go to auction.

It is the end of an era. A sad end for a behemoth that was as much a part of NYC as the Statue of Liberty or the Empire State Building.

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