The Imaginary Landscape

Thursday, November 24, 2005

From the Archive: The Closing of Bonwit Teller

First, I want to wish everyone a Happy Turkey Day!

Tomorrow is the start of the 2005 shopping season. For many of the the May Department Stores (Robinsons-May, Filene's, Foley's....) this will be their last:0(

Below is an article that I clipped from the LA Times in 1985. It detailed the closing of Bonwit Teller, one of the most prestigious name in retailing. Though the article only talked about the closure of the BH location, it was a telltale sign of thing to come. About a year later, the last California store in Palm Desert was sold to Bullocks-Wilshire. Then in 1990, its flagship store at Trump Tower was shuttered and replace by Gallerie Lafayette (a French department store) which eventually was replaced by NikeTown.

I am sad that I never got a chance to visit any of the Bonwit Teller stores. If anyone has, please share.

By Denise Gellene, Times Staff Writer

Bonwit teller is closing its specialty clothing store in Beverly Hills because it has been losing money despite its glamorous location on Rodeo Drive.

Orren Knauer, a spokesman for Allied Stores, the parent of Bonwit Teller, said Wednesday that the company was closing the store because it had been losing money, but he declined to say how much. However, the store is said to have lost $1 million last year on sales in the $10-million range, according to published reports.

Though the store is situated at the corner of South Rodeo Drive and Wilshire Blvd—among the nation’s most prestigious shopping addresses—it suffered from several less obvious disadvantages, the company said. For example, parking was severely limited and the design of the store made it difficult to display merchandise attractively.

Bonwit Teller considered relocating to South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa but decided against it because the costs were too high, the company said. The company said it is looking to expand in the Midwest and East. It plans to remain in Southern California, where it has a store in Palm Desert, near Palm Springs.

When the Beverly Hills store closes on Jan 3, Bonwit Teller will have 14 stores left in its chain. Its parent, Allied Stores, was recently acquired by Campeau Corp., a Canadian real estate concern. The closing of the Beverly Hills store was unrelated to the Allied acquisition, the company said.


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