The scene was hectic at 5 Boniface Circle on Friday after word spread about the “everything must go” sale signs in the windows at Scardale LF. Young women and plenty of parents clutching their wallets were crammed into every corner of the shop. Staff rushed around refilling disheveled displays with more product, and clothes hung off tables and spilled out of boxes, falling to the ground and tangling as people sorted through what was left. The line to the checkout extended almost to the door and a sign at the register read “all sales are final.”
After nine years in business in Scarsdale and 26 other locations in New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Florida, Texas and California, the popular clothing store LF is closing its physical doors.
On the evening of Aug. 15, the store in the Harwood Building looked as usual, with signs advertising its “only sale of the summer.” Just weeks ago, they’d participated in the local summer sidewalk sale, which drew crowds of young women to shop for LF goods at significantly reduced prices. On Friday, Aug. 16, however, the windows and doors of the shop were plastered with bright red posters reading “store closing: everything at least 80% off” and “store
moving online, everything must go.”
On its website, LFstores.com, the brand posted a “letter to our loyal customers,” which said the company decided to shift to e-commerce only after 15 years in business. The announcement went out on all the company’s social media in a similarly abrupt fashion amid normal posts about “the only sale of the season” and posts about online sales. Some clues to the brand’s switch to online-only may have begun earlier in the year, as it closed locations in Brooklyn and Boston’s Harvard Square in early 2019.
The official announcement came on Aug. 6 when co-owner of LF Stores Steven Katz released a statement saying the brick-and-mortar locations would close by Labor Day Weekend. California Apparel News reported that in a statement, Katz said, “Our customers have changed their shopping habits to a stronger preference for online buying ... Because of market conditions, it is no longer economically viable to continue to run a bricks-and-mortar business.”
LF is on the ground floor of the Harwood Building. Landlord Rush Willson, president of Scarsdale Improvement Corp. said about the store’s space, “We fully expect it to be rented right away, however long it takes things to be rearranged. But at this point we do expect it to be rented as soon as it’s vacated. We’re in discussion about a prospective client.”
In spite of the end-run markdown chaos that brought the usually high prices down to something more affordable, local shopper Caroline Kutzin, SHS ’16, said it wasn’t hard for her to guess why the store would shutter.
“From exorbitant pricing to steadily dropping product quality over many years … to having a shoplifting problem and losing out to Mixology, lack of dressing rooms … they were destined for failure,” said Kutzin. “Their only redeeming quality was the cool shoes.”
LF’s closing is just another amid the trend of brick-and-mortar retail locations shuttering nationwide. A Coresight research study announced in April that more stores had already shuttered by the end of the third quarter of 2019 than did in the entirety of 2018. According to that report, almost 6,000 U.S. stores had announced plans to close their physical locations this year.