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More Trouble for Local Department Stores

By Olivia Leigh in News on Dec 6, 2006 8:10PM

Despite the overall increase in department store shopping, 2006 has been a disappointing year for such shops in the city.

From Macy’s takeover of Marshall Fields (and the resulting low sales) to the closing of Carson’s on State Street, the department stores where many of us grew up shopping have been having a tough time with Chicago buyers.

2006_12_lordandtaylor.jpgWhile the plight of Macy’s/Marshall Fields and Carson’s is well-known, two other Magnificent Mile mainstays are struggling, too. In October, NRDC Equity Partners LLC announced they would be closing the doors of Lord & Taylor at Water Tower Place, following the real estate company’s purchase of the 48-store chain from Federated (yeah, that Federated). Yesterday we learned the impact that the closing would have on the area, with 212 jobs slated to go beginning March 16.

At the same time, Crain’s reports that the too-rich-for-our-blood department store Neiman Marcus may have become its landlord’s worst nightmare. Aetna Insurance has filed a lawsuit against the store, located at 737 N. Michigan, for an alleged failure to pay $150,000 to $450,000 in rent per year over a unspecified number of years. We’ve lived with some less than stellar roommates who’ve failed to pay $200, or even $500 of the rent in a given month, but potentially almost half a million dollars? Per year? For any number of years? If the allegations are true (and Neiman's claims they're not), their landlord sounds like the most lenient one that ever lived!

While we do find ourselves feeling little pangs of sympathy for the department stores we knew and loved, most of these emotions are just nostalgia. We don’t plan to step into a department store for our holiday shopping, instead focusing on some specialty retailers, and, for better or for worse, Target.