Bruce Brodoff Communications
Bruce Brodoff Communications
Yule sales hit a wall for some Madison Avenue merchants; fear of building collapse closes part of Avenue leaving stores in area bare of shoppers
By Jean E. Palmieri (Daily New Record; December 10, 1997)

Christmas business ground to a halt for the third day in a row Tuesday for men's merchants on Madison Avenue in the 50s.

An unstable wall on a building at 540 Madison Avenue on 54th Street caused the city to shut down Madison Avenue from 53rd to 55th Streets.

Several stores were forced to close completely including Lacoste, The Gap, Talbots, Eileen Fisher and Cosmetics Plus. Others merchants managed to open, but business was hard to come by.

Bruce Brodoff, director of public information for the Mayor's Office of Emergency Management, said that although the city had hoped to reopen the street by rush hour on Tuesday, it was likely the avenue would remain closed until at least today. "We need to make sure the facade is stable," he said.

Several stores, including Talbots, were able to open for several hours on Monday, but were shuttered again on Tuesday. Brodoff explained Tuesday: "Yesterday was a day of planning and assessing so we were able to accomodate the merchants. But we had to close today for public safety reasons."

The Lacoste flagship has been closed since the incident on Sunday afternoon, according to CFO Edward Meredith. "The city has been very cooperative in a very dangerous situation. They told us that they hope by tomorrow [Wednesday] we can reopen, but there are no guarantees. It's unfortunate because it's the Christmas season but we're confident that we can make up a good portion of the sales we lost."

Robert Wood, manager of Thomas Pink on 53rd Street, said business was actually quite good on Monday, but was quiet on Tuesday. "We haven't shut down at all because we have a 53rd Street entrance. But with all the media attention, people think we're closed."

Wood said he also hopes to recoup some of the lost business, but "as we go down the [Christmas] stretch, it will be more difficult."

Jonathan Cline, co-owner of H. Herzfeld on Madison between 52nd and 53rd, said: "Business was robust Friday, Saturday and Sunday, but by Monday, it had come to a standstill."

He said it's unlikely that the store will recover the sales it has missed over the past two days. "You never make up lost business," he said, noting that customers are still walking by but they're "looking up [at the damaged building,] not at our windows."

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