Filene's Basement and Syms File for Bankruptcy

By Ben Fractenberg on November 2, 2011 2:06pm 

Syms and its subsidiary Filene's Basement filed for bankruptcy on Nov. 2, 2011.
Syms and its subsidiary Filene's Basement filed for bankruptcy on Nov. 2, 2011.
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MANHATTAN — Filene's Basement is in the red — and it's not this season's hot new color.

The women's clothing superstore, which has locations in Union Square and the Upper West Side, and its parent company, Syms, the men's clothing chain which has an outpost in lower Manhattan, filed for bankruptcy protection Wednesday — ending a decades-long run for the well-known discount clothing chains.

“Filing for bankruptcy and pursuing a liquidation of the stores was not a step we took lightly ," said Syms CEO Marcy Syms in a statement.

“In the face of very challenging economic conditions, our board of directors has for some time been exploring every strategic option available and, finally, came to the conclusion that a liquidation was in the best interest of all our stakeholders."

The locations are among more than two dozen Syms and 21 Filene's Basement stores which announced that they will have to close their doors, citing an increase in discount retailer competition as well as the economic downturn.

Filene's annual "Running of the Brides" took place at the chain's Upper West Side store at 2222 and 2228 Broadway this past March, with hundreds of women scrambling for deeply-discounted wedding dresses.

That store was lauded by the city as part of a "shopper's paradise" on the Upper West Side that included a new Century 21 in September.

Syms, founded in 1959, is most well-known for its longtime tag line that "an educated consumer is our best customer." The company took over Filene's, which was founded in Boston in 1909, two years ago after the company filed for bankruptcy.

Both chains plan to use the upcoming holiday season to liquidate their inventories and close sometime in January.

Aside from the combined store on the Upper West Side and a Syms on Trinity Place in lower Manhattan, there was a Filene's on Union Square South.

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