NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Ann Taylor’s original shop, known as ‘store number one’, closed for good on Monday. It opened in New Haven in 1954 starting big things for the retail giant.
A New Haven native, Richard Liebeskind, opened the women’s clothing shop nearly 70 years ago. Ann Taylor was the name of a best-selling dress his father had created. His father gifted him the name and the dress as good luck for the opening; it must have worked. Liebeskind would go on to sell many dresses.
In 1991, when the company went public, it made nearly $200 million. But now, nearly 30 years later, the retail is struggling. Even before the pandemic, more and more people were shopping online. And with foot traffic eliminated by the COVID-19 pandemic, the retail giant decided to close up shop.
Ann Taylor’s parent company, Ascena, filed for bankruptcy last week and Monday the New Haven location closed up shop.
“There’s a sentimental value being the first and the original, but at the end of the day this is business and the decision-makers who are at the corporation that owns Ann Taylor they simply don’t have that connection to Ann Taylor’s roots that our local community does,” said Fred McKinney, Carlton Highsmith Chair of Innovation and Entrepreneurship for Quinnipiac University’s School of Business.
He says retail often thrives by having other stores around. So, he believes this is definitely a hit to downtown New Haven.
“When you lose an anchor like an Ann Taylor it sends a very chilling message to the surviving stores nearby,” said McKinney.