“Go back many years,” Eric Adams instructed his audience, standing at a podium in front of glass doors. He might as well have told them to close their eyes, too. “I was running for office, and I had to find the right tie,” NYC’s mayor followed up. Laughter rippled from the crowd, because these weren’t just any doors, but the doors to the freshly reopened Century 21.
Adams was helming a ribbon-cutting on May 16th, and he later rung up the first purchase at the newest iteration of the store, a crisp blue dress shirt. He appeared overjoyed to discover that a department employee that would help him find ties was among the crowd before him.
Century 21 most recently closed in 2020, after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy during the COVID-19 pandemic. It has a bumpy history of openings and shutterings that hasn’t dented its popularity among Manhattanites, and is tied up with the city-defining tragedy of 9/11 (it was located directly next to the World Trade Center, where it has now reopened). That disaster caused damage to the store that necessitated a temporary closure and rebuilding until reopening on February 28, 2002.
Owner Eddie Gindi was overcome with tears of joy at the ribbon-cutting, describing the store reopening as a sort of fait accompli from on high: “We had no choice but to reopen. We had no choice. I told myself I wouldn’t cry,” he said, but he didn’t seem to have a choice in that either.