NEW YORK — A small but seminal piece of retailing history will soon cease to exist.
The longstanding Lazarus-Macy’s department store in downtown Columbus, Ohio, will close next August, said parent company Federated Department Stores Inc. on Friday.
The Cincinnati, Ohio-based operator of the Lazarus-Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s and Macy’s nameplates, among others, said its significant investment in nine other LM doors in the Columbus area made it economically untenable to maintain the foundering downtown institution.
“Our Columbus roots are strong, and we remain firmly committed to this market,” said David Nichols, president of the firm’s Rich’s/Lazarus/Goldsmith-Macy’s division, in a statement. “But the reality is that sales in the downtown store have fallen by more than 60 percent since 1995.”
Federated said it will not look to open another store in downtown Columbus and that it will offer most of the approximately 200 employees who work at the soon-to-be-closed location positions at other area stores. The landmark, originally 933,000 square feet, was downsized to 317,500 square feet in 1998.
The shuttering of the store will result in a $12 million noncash charge in the third quarter, Federated said, but that will not affect the company’s current earnings guidance of 30 to 33 cents a share.
The downtown store, which opened in 1909, traces its lineage to 1851 when Simon Lazarus, the first rabbi of Columbus’ Temple Israel, opened a small men’s clothing store that would become F&R Lazarus & Co., a department store named for his two sons, Fred and Ralph.
In 1929, F&R Lazarus joined with several other family-owned department stores, including Abraham & Straus and Filene’s of Boston, to form a Columbus-based holding company named Federated Department Stores Inc. Bloomingdale’s joined Federated the following year, and in 1945 the company moved its headquarters to Cincinnati, where it continues to be based.
Simon Lazarus’ grandson, Fred Lazarus Jr., is credited with convincing President Franklin Roosevelt in 1935 to change the Thanksgiving holiday to the fourth Thursday of November from the last Thursday to extend the holiday shopping season, arguing that it would be good for the country’s economy as it wallowed in the Great Depression.
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