Fivestory to Close New York Store, Expand in Florida

Fivestory is on the move again.

The luxury womenswear boutique will close its New York City store at the end of this month to double down on its more successful locations in Palm Beach, Fla., and the Hamptons.

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Karen Murray, a fashion industry veteran who purchased Fivestory at the end of 2019, said since the pandemic, her customer is not living and shopping in New York City as often as they did before COVID-19 changed their lives. “My customers are really excited about me, my assortment and my stores in Palm Beach,” she said. “So I’m going to expand my business in Florida and keep Southampton because it offsets the slow months in Florida.”

Murray said she will be renewing her lease and expanding the store in Palm Beach and will also be searching for other locations in the state in communities with more year-round residents such as Miami or Coral Gables. She’s also exploring potentially opening a Fivestory in some of the high-end hotels in Florida, she said.

In February, Murray opened a location in the Brazilian Court Hotel in Palm Beach in an experiential luxury retail space within the historic property. That location is also doing well, she said.

However, the same cannot be said for the New York City unit. “Business there is OK, but my customers are shopping in Florida and the Hamptons,” she said.

Murray said the lease for the 2,900-square-foot space at 1044 Madison Avenue will be assigned to a women’s fashion boutique, which will move in on the evening of June 30 when Fivestory closes. “It is not going to be dark one day,” she said. “The space is very desirable.” She declined to name the other retailer saying that the final paperwork has not yet been signed.

In addition to the brick-and-mortar spaces, Murray will also focus on Fivestory’s online presence. “We’ll continue to serve our customers as always online and will focus even more on developing our social presence,” she said.

Murray, whose résumé includes being president of VF Sportswear and chief executive officer of Sequential Brands, bought Fivestory from its founders, Claire Olshan and her father, Fred Distenfeld, in 2019. The original location was a five-story town house at 18 East 69th Street.

Murray relocated to 1020 Madison Avenue in March of 2020 and then to the current space, between 79th and 80th Streets, last fall.

She opened a 900-square-foot outpost on Jobs Lane in Southampton in the spring of 2021 and a 2,500-square-foot space in Palm Beach in the fall of 2021.

Murray has experienced her share of ups and downs since buying the business. In addition to relocating the New York City store three times, she is also battling the former owners who have sued her for breach of contract, alleging she did not pay the agreed-upon price for the business. Murray said the former owners did not uphold their side of the deal by ensuring the lease could be assigned to her as the new owner. That lawsuit is still pending.

Fivestory offers a mix of emerging and well-known apparel, accessory and jewelry lines for women including Anya Hindmarch, Favorite Daughter, Ganni, Nili Lotan, Prabal Gurung, Simkhai and Zimmermann. There is also a vintage department where one-of-a-kind pieces from Chanel to Yves Saint Laurent are sold as well as some curated home goods.

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