We’ve learned that Lester’s will be closing its Upper East Side clothing store (1534 Second Avenue at 80th Street) after 30 years at that location.
Lester’s was first established in 1948 by young entrepreneurs Lester and Lillian Kronfeld. Their first store was in Brooklyn at the corner of Coney Island Avenue and Avenue U. Since then, there have been many expansions, with stores opening in Long Island, Westchester County, Connecticut, New Jersey and NYC.
The store is currently owned by Lester and Lillian’s daughter and son-in-law, Scheri and Perry Schorr, and their nephew, Barry Cohen. The Upper East Side location is the last remaining store under the founding family’s ownership.
While the exact date of the closing is unclear, it is likely to be sometime in the next couple of months.
In an interview with Barry Cohen, he shared that he and his cousins are heartbroken about the closing. Cohen himself has been part of the business for 50 years. He started working at the store when he was 16 years old. He then got a business degree at Baruch College. After he graduated, his aunt and uncle offered him an opportunity to stay in the business and help them grow it.
Cohen expressed that his heart goes out to the New York City customers. He and his team love what they do. They are not happy about the circumstances, but times are difficult for retail right now. Lester’s is still grappling with the economic aftermath of COVID-19, with manufacturers unable to ship products in a timely fashion while online shopping becomes more and more prevalent.
“I believe in the Upper East Side,” he said. “It’s a great mix of businesses and families. Apartments and restaurants are flourishing. But fashion and upscale retail are suffering in Manhattan because of high rents. Also, although people appreciate retail, they prefer to shop online by brand and by price.”
In his narrative of the store’s history, Cohen mentioned how happy he and his family are to have helped many generations. Valued customers come into the store and share stories about how their parents and grandparents used to shop in the various locations. “We appreciate the opportunity to have served hundreds of thousands of customers we’ve brought fashion to over the years. We thank everyone. Every great-grandparent. Every grandparent. Every parent. Every child of all ages.”
The owners are also appreciative to the generations of employees who started and helped run the business, including buyers, managers, sales staff, and administrative staff. They also acknowledge their vendor community with whom they’ve partnered throughout their years of business.
Lester’s is currently offering 30% discounts on all items storewide, and up to 50% off for some categories.
Lester’s proprietary children’s clothing brand, Rock Candy, will be continuing its sales online and selling to various stores around the country.
In closing, Perry Schorr stated, “Our number-one priority has always been satisfying the needs of our customers, and we sincerely hope that everyone felt the love and appreciation we’ve had for all of them over these years.”
The Lester’s name will be continuing under the ownership of the Klein family in the following locations: Lester’s of Greenvale, Lester’s of Rye Brook, and online at lesters.com.