Fifty years ago, the first Century 21 department store opened its doors in Brooklyn offering New Yorkers a huge variety of products. This fall, the retailer will celebrate the opening of its sixth location measuring at 200,000-square-feet, which will be located in Rego Park, Queens.
"We are a complete department store, offering shoppers everything from cosmetics to intimate apparel to housewares," said Lisa Aquilino, divisional merchandise manager for intimate apparel and activewear at the company. "We also have a vast range of prices and designer labels. The jewel in our crown is our extensive European department."
Intimate apparel will occupy 6,200-square-feet of space in the new Rego Park location, said Aquilino. The amount of space allocated to intimate apparel varies within each store. "It's a growing department [and] we've continuously grown this division each year," she said.
Calvin Klein, DKNY, Bali, Wacoal and Maidenform are just some of the names that do well in the stores. Altogether, Aquilino says the stores carry well over 100 different brands in intimate apparel, but "most of our business is done with the top 10 vendors."
This season, Aquilino has added Free People, which she described as a "very cute junior line." She also bought Tommy Hilfiger, "who is coming back into the intimate apparel world," and Munki Munki who has "very cute sleepwear."
At this year's Curve show, Aquilino thought a few brands really stood out. She named sleepwear company Lisa's Follies as one as well as Flibustin, Milili, Spreegirl, Marie Jo and Intimo.
Even in a tight economy, Aquilino says Century 21 has stuck by the "big players" in the industry. "This economy doesn't change the way we operate as far as our goals," she said. "Our goal is to always have the hottest vendors, whatever the customer is asking for, we will certainly pursue. We're just more cautious about everything we do, whether it is an established vendor or a new vendor."
A focused goal, a wide selection and smart price points have played a big part in the company's success. At a time when "Closed" signs seem to be popping up everywhere, the company is "very excited" it will be opening the sixth location. "We look forward to going beyond the sixth store," Aquilino concluded.