One of New York City’s most famous department stores will close after selling to WeWork. Here’s what it looked like during a recent visit.

Lord & Taylor's flagship store in Manhattan.

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Lord & Taylor’s flagship store in Manhattan.
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Mark Matousek/Business Insider

  • Lord & Taylor’s flagship store in Manhattan was sold to WeWork for $850 million in October.
  • The retailer said it would rent around 25% of the space and operate as a scaled-down version of its former self.
  • But on Tuesday, Lord & Taylor announced that it would be closing this location completely.
  • We visited the store in October. Here’s what we found.

Lord & Taylor is saying a final goodbye to its flagship Manhattan store.

Seven months previously, its parent company, Canadian retailer Hudson’s Bay, announced that the company would be scaling back operations and selling its landmark Lord & Taylor store on Fifth Avenue to co-working startup WeWork for $850 million. The plan was for Lord & Taylor to rent about 25% of the space to run a smaller version of the store.

These plans have now been abandoned.

On Tuesday, it confirmed that the well-known department store would be vacating the building for good after more than 100 years in the location. The building will serve as WeWork’s headquarters.

WeWork recently raised $4.4 billion in funding from SoftBank Group and SoftBank Vision Fund and is now considered the most valuable startup in New York City.

The sale is symbolic for the struggling department store and for retail as a whole, as shoppers continue to move away from brick-and-mortar stores toward online options.

2017 saw a record-high rate of store closings, which has continued in 2018. More than 3,800 closures are expected this year, according to an analysis by Business Insider. This includes department stores such as Macy’s, Sears, and JCPenney.

We visited Lord & Taylor’s flagship Fifth Avenue store on a Wednesday in October after it announced that the building would be sold to WeWork. While the store was offering plenty of discounts, it attracted a small fraction of the significant foot traffic outside.

Here’s how Lord & Taylor will end its run at its iconic Fifth Avenue location:


We went to the store, which is located at 424 5th Avenue, on a Wednesday afternoon. There was significant foot traffic nearby.

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Mark Matousek/Business Insider

Some of the displays promoted retro styles that seemed to be targeted toward middle-aged shoppers.

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Mark Matousek/Business Insider

Inside, the store wasn’t attracting as many customers as you’d expect from the bustle outside.

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Mark Matousek/Business Insider

The discounts were immediately apparent.

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Mark Matousek/Business Insider

Even premium items, like jewelry, were on sale.

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Mark Matousek/Business Insider

One floor up, the shoe section was a little more crowded.

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Mark Matousek/Business Insider

Here, we found the first of Lord & Taylor’s efforts to appeal to younger shoppers in the form of a phone-charging station.

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Mark Matousek/Business Insider

We also noticed relics of a bygone era. Given the emergence of curated, online clothing delivery services like Stitch Fix and Trunk Club, Lord & Taylor’s personal stylist service may not provide the competitive advantage it once did.

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Mark Matousek/Business Insider

As we moved up through the store, it became apparent that Lord & Taylor has invested in eye-catching displays.

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Mark Matousek/Business Insider

But they didn’t seem to be drawing much foot traffic.

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Mark Matousek/Business Insider

For the most part, the women’s clothes seemed to be targeted toward a middle-aged demographic.

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Mark Matousek/Business Insider

High-end labels like Armani and Kate Spade were common …

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Mark Matousek/Business Insider

… as were cashmere sweaters, which were EVERYWHERE.

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Mark Matousek/Business Insider

Lord & Taylor did make overtures toward younger shoppers with yoga apparel.

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Mark Matousek/Business Insider

Another effort to compete with online retailers — a price-matching guarantee.

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Mark Matousek/Business Insider

The cashmere sweaters were inescapable.

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Mark Matousek/Business Insider

The discounts continued in the men’s section.

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Mark Matousek/Business Insider

Still, there weren’t many customers shopping for men’s clothes.

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Mark Matousek/Business Insider

It wasn’t hard to understand why some of the items were on sale — like this purple velvet blazer.

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Mark Matousek/Business Insider

The men’s offerings were more oriented toward millennials.

Lord & Taylor's flagship store in Manhattan.

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Mark Matousek/Business Insider

The efforts to appeal to young shoppers were more obvious with the graphic tees …

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Mark Matousek/Business Insider

… and novelty suits.

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Mark Matousek/Business Insider

Here’s another of Lord & Taylor’s methods to make their stores relevant to online shoppers.

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Mark Matousek/Business Insider

This display (for cashmere sweaters, of course) creeped us out a bit.

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Mark Matousek/Business Insider

It’s never too early for Christmas decorations.

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Mark Matousek/Business Insider

Ultimately, the discounts and other efforts to attract online shoppers were apparently not enough to fend off the retail apocalypse.

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Mark Matousek/Business Insider