Following in the footsteps of other retailers that have gone bankrupt in recent years, off-price men’s clothing store Syms, headquartered in Secaucus, along with sister company Filene’s Basement, closed its doors at the start of the new year.
Stores were plastered with “going out of business” signs during the liquidation process run by Gordon Brothers liquidators. The company also hung “closed” signs on their web sites that sent a message of finality – “all stores are now closed. Thank you for your patronage and loyalty throughout the years.”
The Syms headquarters and local store were on Syms Way in the Harmon Cove outlets in Secaucus.
Economic downturn and tough competition
Syms and Filene’s Basement filed for bankruptcy in November, blaming the poor economy and competition from the “big box” department stores. Shortly before founder Sy Syms’ death in 2009, his daughter acquired Filene’s Basement in a federal bankruptcy auction.
“[These factors] combined with the worst economic downturn in our lifetimes.” – Marcy Syms
With the closing of the remaining 25 Syms stores and 21 Filene’s basement stores, 2,450 people have lost their jobs nationwide.
The popularity of on-line shopping also had a hand in the death of the company.
Other companies in trouble
Syms is not alone. Another Secaucus-based company, Annie Sez, is reportedly undergoing financial trouble after owner Big M Inc., which also owns Mandee, was seeking to reorganize and shut some locations, according to Bloomberg news reports.
Sears and Kmart stores, both of which also have long histories and which have had to compete with popular “big box” stores like Target, have slated 100 stores for closing this year.
Shopping no longer what it used to be
In 1959, when Sy Syms (born Sy Merinsky) opened his apparel business in New York’s financial district, it was President Dwight Eisenhower’s Wall Street, with traders sitting at old wooden desks calling out stock prices. It would be a few years before Paul Amico was elected as Mayor of Secaucus and ushered in an era of major development within the municipality that would pave the way for the future of the Harmon Cove area and Secaucus outlets, where Syms had a store.
Men wore single-breasted, charcoal gray flannel suits with light blue button-down shirts and striped ties. Women wore short jackets, sleeveless dresses with fitted waists, and shin-length skirts.
In the 1970s Founder Syms starred in commercials that featured the company’s slogan, “An Educated Consumer Is Our Best Customer.” He was credited with coming up with the line. The company continued to use the slogan up until April 2011.
Adriana Rambay Fernández may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.