• Andrea Lillo

Century 21 brings Brooklyn home

Manhattan location damaged
Brooklyn, NY — Despite the World Trade Center disaster and the resulting affect on its Manhattan location, Century 21 Department Stores still opened its new home store here in the Bay Ridge neighborhood of Brooklyn.

Ed Gindi, vp and one of the owners, said, "All of our projects are going on as planned." In addition to the home store, plans include the renovation of the original Bay Ridge store and a new store opening in Morristown, NJ, next March or April.

The new home store, located on 87th Street behind the original store on 86th Street, now offers an expanded assortment in every home category, Gindi said. The department in the original store was about 7,500 square feet, and "we couldn't show everything." Now textiles is spread out among 22,000 square feet in the new location, which also includes home decor, accent furniture, luggage, and small electronics.

"This is a whole new venture for us," he said, and the initial response from customers has been extremely positive. "This area has been starving for home goods," he said.

Unlike its other locations, this store "is totally dedicated to home." And it looks unlike other locations as well, "promoting an open feeling that is customer friendly," he said. Designed by Horst Design, Cold Spring Harbor, NY, the former warehouse now boasts high ceilings, tall fixtures, bright lighting and clear signage.

Century 21 is known for carrying designer labels at discount prices, and that holds true in this store, including such names as Ralph Lauren, Donna Karan, Wamsutta, Royal Velvet and others. Bedding comprises the largest textiles category, and is found at the left of the store, and displays include floor-to-ceiling assortments of top-of-bed and sheets. Table linens are located at the front of the store, with seasonal looks at the forefront. The bath area has a wide assortment of towels, shower curtains, accessories and such. Window coverings and accent rugs are also an important part of the product mix.

Stewart Weiss, home textiles buyer, added, "This is the first time in Brooklyn we've been able to show the breadth of our assortment. The people in Brooklyn have been hungry for home."

And, Weiss added, "We couldn't have done it without our suppliers. They came through to make sure it got done," even with last week's events.

Those events, taking place just a few miles, did affect Century 21's Manhattan location. On Cortlandt Street between Church St. and Broadway, the store was in the center of the bustling financial community only two weeks ago but is now within ground zero, the area at and around the World Trade Center that was attacked on Sept. 11.

Not surprisingly, the store is currently closed, said Ed Gindi, vp and one of the owners. "It took a lot of damage but is still structurally sound."

But, more importantly, "we're so thankful that everyone in the store got out OK. Our thoughts are with everyone" that was affected by the attack or is helping with the rescue effort, he said.

The Manhattan location is a "large part of the volume" of all Century 21 stores, he said, and it will be cleaned and fixed up in the coming months. He hoped that it would reopen within three to six months. In the meantime, the retailer is trying to place Manhattan employees in its other locations.

"Century 21 is very strong," he said. "We're not going to miss a beat."

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