Legendary specialty store retailers Barneys and Boyds may seem to be likely rivals, but no, its founding families have been longtime friends. So much so that Kent Gushner, president and owner of Boyds, announced that the store will be honoring gift cards from Barneys in the aftermath of the storied New York retailer announcing it will be shuttering all units, including its Philadelphia location.
Boyds will honor the first 250 Barneys gift cards that come through its doors for a $250 value in-store, now through Dec. 12. “Barneys touched the lives of so many people in so many different ways. Without question, we’ll miss Barneys, too,” said Gushner, whose grandfather Alexander Gushner, Boyds founder, was good friends with Barneys founder Barney Pressman.
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In a Facebook posting, Gushner said, “I have fond memories of our family gatherings as a kid. Over the years, my father and I always looked to Barneys for inspiration as the gold standard in luxury retail. We respectfully viewed Boyds as the Barneys of Philadelphia.”
As Barneys closes a long chapter in retail history, Boyds is enjoying strong store sales, due in part to its product diversity and focus on service, according to Gushner. “We have a very eclectic audience, spanning the spectrum in terms of age, demographics, price points and fashion sensibility,” he said. “We’re not a department store, but we are [more] diversified in our offering than most specialty stores that are smaller.”
While Gushner said the store has not ignored the importance of online shopping and is currently building out its website, it prides itself on the personal service found in its brick-and-mortar location, which underwent a $10 million renovation completed in December 2018. “We have tried to build a store physically and an organization as well that will position us to succeed in that vein,” said Gushner. “We believe in brick-and-mortar, but it has to be the right kind, and we are betting that we are able to create and sustain that.”
According to Gushner, “business has been very, very, very good this season,” with about 10 percent of the store’s volume done in footwear for both men and women. “I know it’s contrary to what [people] are hearing [about retail]. We made a bet a couple of years ago in investing a lot money in changing our store around. While it’s too premature to say whether the bet’s paid off, the indicators are such, and we are headed in a good direction.”
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