Byline: David Moin

NEW YORK--Joining the off-price explosion in Manhattan, Syms Corp. will open a four-level, 40,000-square-foot unit in 400 Park Ave., at 54th Street in early fall 1996.
"Off-price stores are getting more daring," said Marcy Syms, president of the 37-unit Syms Corp., based in Secaucus, N.J. She disclosed the new site in an interview Thursday.
"It's a matter of big designers and brands reaching a level of comfort with various distribution channels. They know there is a customer for each type of retail operation," she said.
Burlington Coat Factory opens today on Sixth Avenue and 23rd Street and has a unit at 45 Park Place. T.J. Maxx is opening soon at 620 Sixth Ave., above Filene's Basement, which has another store on 79th Street and Broadway. Loehmann's plans to open on Seventh Avenue and 16th Street, the same block as Barneys New York. Syms said the Park Avenue unit should do at least $20 million in annual sales, matching the volume of the chain's other Manhattan store at 42 Trinity Place. The three-year-old Trinity Place unit has five floors and 48,000 square feet, or about 3,000 square feet more than the average Syms unit. Syms has operated stores at various locations in lower Manhattan since 1959.
The Park Avenue lease has a contingency clause specifying that all tenants at the site must be vacated by Dec. 1, Syms said.
Syms discounts designer and brand labels and generally locates its stores far enough away from regular-priced stores so that vendors feel Syms won't siphon sales from their regular accounts. However, the Park Avenue unit will be only five blocks from Bloomingdale's and Saks Fifth Avenue. Asked if that could be a problem with suppliers that also ship to those stores, Syms said, "We hope it won't be an issue and don't anticipate that, but we will certainly work with any vendors" who might be concerned. About 50 percent of the store's merchandise will be women's. Chainwide, 32 percent of the volume is women's. Syms should attract many office workers in the area, since its merchandise is geared toward career clothes.

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