The Return of Bonwit Teller and Not so Goody’s News

Happy Monday to all…hopefully everyone’s time out of the City this weekend was restorative and rewarding.

A few very brief snippets, at least for this early post. First, the fabulous news about the return of Bonwit Teller. At one time this ranked high on the list of the Princess’s favorite retail emporiums, at least of the large, department store variety. As this vintage ad demonstrates (at least if you can see it, and then use your imagination just a bit), Bonwits was a superb outpost of refined elegance and discreet good taste, traits infrequently experienced in today’s retail culture.

Vintage Bonwit Teller ad for House of Bianchi Wedding Gown

Many of us of ‘a certain age’ fondly (yours truly *most* definitely included) recall the look of this fabled logo, as seen in this instance on an old credit card. That was being auctioned on eBay. (That had all of the identifying information out there for the world to see. We did ask Mister Princess to fuzzy up the individual’s name and address. Honestly.) But we do bring it to you as it is our only method of sharing that brilliant logo. We were always just a bit gaga over the Bonwits shopping bags, they were so very pretty.

Vintage Bonwit Teller Card

At any rate, here’s a bit of info from a story that crossed on the Business Wire a few weeks ago:

“The iconic brand helped launch the careers of notable designers such as Henri Bendel and Calvin Klein, and “Bonwit’s” stores and brand-building efforts featured the work of renowned artists such as Andy Warhol, Salvador Dali, Richard Avedon, and Robert Rauschenberg. Bonwit Teller is widely given credit for pioneering the notion of shopping bags-as-advertisements through the use of its “violets” logo, still fondly recalled.

“Bonwit Teller set the standard for the high-end shopping experience for a century,” said Najjar. “I am excited to revitalize Bonwit’s heritage for today’s marketplace. Bonwit once outfitted fashion icons such as Jackie Kennedy and Grace Kelly – the new Bonwit will evoke that sense of glamour, with a modern twist.”

The initial flagship store in New York should be open by the end of next year with another store in Los Angeles opening shortly after that. Whoo-hoo! This is such happy-happy and hubba-hubba news, it’s even better than the Lilly store opening on Madison!

But in not-so-wonderful news, word today that struggling Goody’s Family Clothing, the Nashville-based chain of 300+ stores, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The company plans to close 69 ‘underperforming stores’; Georgia and South Carolina will be hardest hit by the closings.

Goody\'s Ashley Judd Banner

Apparently the retailer’s Ashley Judd line may not be doing as well as hoped because of its higher price points. Here is a quick pic of an Ashley Judd Silk Blouse in pink, originally priced at $44 it is now about $31; it is also machine washable silk.

Goody\'s Clothing Ashley Judd Silk BlouseDuck Head Madras shorts at Goody\'s

Goody’s spent $4 million almost 5 years ago to buy the Duck Head trademark, in part because of its high consumer recognition ratings in the southeast. Above we show Duck Head Jeans Co. Patchwork Plaid Madras Shorts for men. The Princess hopes the company is able to pull out of its slump and promises to keep you updated.

A Princess Note: Some information in the Bonwits post provided by Business Wire and WWD.

16 Comments

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16 responses to “The Return of Bonwit Teller and Not so Goody’s News

  1. Rose

    As a follow-up to that story, how much did that Bonwit credit card go for?

  2. You know Rose, that is a great question. The Princess wishes she had done a better job maintaining that information so she could give you a proper answer, but sadly, she did not. šŸ˜¦
    Next time she promises to do better.

    Thank you for visiting, and we do hope you come again!
    šŸ™‚

  3. Mark

    Has there been any further news regarding Bonwit’s? or has it been postponed/canceled in light of the financial meltdown? Also, any idea where the new store would be located? They had a great men’s department and I miss it.

  4. Guy

    Remembering the 5ave Bonwits. Hermes in-store on 56st, & Michigan Avenue (scarves were $35, the caleche/amazone era), Old Fashioned MrJennings towards the end. you could spend the day in there, and buy a box of Fauchon apricots for energy.
    Remembering Georg Jensen on 5th. Takeshimaya seems closest (2009), because of the house-type backstairs between floors.

  5. Thomas

    I am of that age and I adored Bonwit’s. I cried the day the NY store closed (the first one, the real one); I was a buyer for Sak’s at the time. Even a minor reincarnation would be lovely. I still have my old Bonwit’s card, like the one pictured and some old shopping bags. It was the grandest of the speciality stores…in the 50’s , 60’s and 70’s it was what Bergdorf is today. The cream de la creme of retailing.

  6. My Dad was the building supervisor of the Bonwit Teller in Manhasset, N.Y. I worked there while going to college in the business office and the lingerie department. Last year, while going through my mom’s things I came across her old Bonwit’s card and it brought back fond memories of shopping with her for a special outfit for Easter time. Naturally, I kept the card since it envoked such wonderful memories. I am so excited to see that it’s being brought back, I hope to its former glory!

  7. Sherry Lewis

    My mother and grandmother use to take me to Bonwit’s and I continued to shop there when I began working. I loved the store and I’m happy to hear that it will be returning. Great news!

  8. Anonymous

    I started working for Bonwit Teller at the age of 19 in 1978. I still have my Bonwit Teller credit card, bags, folders, hat boxes, etc. I of course
    shopped at Henri Bendel where I received a 25% discount also because
    both stores were owned by Genesco. I still have my Henri Bendel credit
    card and a signed letter from the Geraldine Stutz welcoming to Henri
    Bendel. I also have clothes stored away from both stores. I miss those
    days.

  9. Barbara

    I worked for bonwits in the 50’s and I loved every moment of it . I worked for Pearl Bern whom they named the dept. after. I was a clerical for her.. I also started as a stock girl in white plains for two summers. I am happy that they will bring the store back, I miss the days of better clothes and high fashion. watch out nordstroms and by the way I still have my Bonwit teller credit card.

  10. I used to work at Bonwits during High School and after high school graduation. That was my first full time job in the data processing department on the second floor offices. (ticket tapes data processing) in 1968. I remember Mr. O’Neil, the store manager and Ms. Mildred Contance, the President of Bonwits back in the day. A very elegant lady which I had the pleasure of meeting quite a few times. Ms. Crowley was the department manager. I loved Bonwits. Started out as a stock boy in the luggage dept and once delivered a dress to Mrs. Ed Sullivan at DelMonico’s Hotel. I joined the Army about a year later. The one thing that I always remembered about Bonwit Teller was the perfume sprayed in the revolting doors each time they went around with customers, with a sign over the door – “the fragrance in the air is Max Factor” or some other name – everyday it would changeto another scent. I remember bringing my mother up there once, even though we had no money to buy anything, she felt like a real queen. I miss those days so very much.

  11. AJ

    Sure Hope Bonwit Teller DOES get revived…no news yet since 2008…but it must have been the recession that scared them off…lets hope thats a temporary situation now that the economy seems well poised to be building again!
    BONWIT TELLER was THE pinnacle of High Fashion NY Stores in it’s day just as Bergdorf Goodman is today.
    But Bergdorf’s paled then next to Bonwits! The Fifth Avenue store was imposing & beautifully articulated architecture. Going to Mr. Jennings Ice Cream Parlour on the top floor with my family is a treasured memory. My Mother buying Jars of Candied Violets by Fauchon imported from Paris & displayed in Bonwit’s in a magnificent Armoire, Louis XVI Chairs & Sfas throughout the store on every floor for customers comfort, The tremendously beautiful Home Gifts boutiques featuring Boehm Birds & Flowers in Porcelain-so startling life-like, It was extremely disappointing when it was bought by Trump. He further disappointed when he mislead the Preservation Society whom he assured he would save the incredibly beautiful stone Lintel & stone entrance-but instead had workmmen smash it on the sidewalk when dismantling the building. This building -the entire store had just been through anexquisite multi-million dollar renovation -that made it even more beautiful than ever! Incredible Chinese pagoda interiors on each of the elevators,exquisite panelled mouldings on every floor that made finest background for presentation of the finest of fashion goods. Jacqueline Kennedy & many other high profile customers were of course regulars.
    Nodstrom, sorry, isn’t even in the same league! Todays stores on the whole, are little more than big boring boxes-if they have any design interest at all it sarts outside & declines rapidly on entering! Younger people have entirely MISSED a glamorous old world New York that was mystically, magically transportive & uplifting!

  12. josephine

    I started to work at Bonwit’s in 1946 while still in high school taking part
    of the cooperative course. I remained on after I graduated working in
    the office. The buyer, assistant buyer, the head of stock and us office
    girls were on big happy family. I was shocked and also saddened to
    see a great store such as Bonwit’s close. I hope it will start up again
    and be as great as it once was. Good luck!!

  13. josephine

    I started to work at Bonwit’s in 1946 while I was in high school and remained after I graduated. The buyer, assistant buyer, head of stock
    and us office girls were like one big happy family. I felt devastated
    upon hearing of the closing. I hope they will once again be back and
    as great as they once were. Best of luck!!!

  14. Jeanette

    I shopped at the Bonwit Teller store at Somerset Place in Troy, Michigan and I miss the quality of the clothes I could buy then. I hope it comes back and opens stores in the south where I now live.

  15. Years ago I bought a very nice wallet at the Bonwit-Teller store in Chicago (John Hancock Building). I was visiting from St. Louis at the time. Within the year, the stitching in the wallet began to come. Fortunately, I happened to be in New York and went to the Bonwit (Trump Tower) store there.

    I told the clerk what had happened and he said, “Bonwits does not sell wallet” and walked away. I followed him and explained that I had bought it in Chicago and they did sell wallets. Once again, he said they did not sell wallets and walked away. I was mad.

    When I got back to St. Louis I called Bonwit’s in Chicago and told them what had happened. The woman I spoke to told me to send her the wallet C.O.D. A few weeks later the wallet was returned to me in perfect condition.

    The next day she called to see if I had received the wallet and if I was pleased. “More than pleased. Thank you so much.” She thanked me for shopping at Bonwits and then just before we hung up she said in a very nice voice, “You know, Bonwits does not sell wallets.”

    The next time I was in Chicago I went to the John Hancock and walked right over to the counter where I distinctly remembered buying the wallet. There was no counter there and indeed Bonwits did not sell wallets.

    Great customer service and I will never forget them.

  16. Kelley

    What a great story, Audrey!!

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