© 2024 | Jefferson Public Radio
Southern Oregon University
1250 Siskiyou Blvd.
Ashland, OR 97520
541.552.6301 | 800.782.6191
Listen | Discover | Engage a service of Southern Oregon University
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Lord & Taylor Sold To Online Clothing Rental Startup For $100 Million


With news that America's oldest department store chain is getting sold to the 7-year-old startup Le Tote. NPR's Alina Selyukh reports.

ALINA SELYUKH, BYLINE: Lord & Taylor is almost 200 years old. It gets credit for a lot of firsts in retail - the first female company president in the 1940s, first personal shoppers in the '50s, a dog boutique with mink-lined coats for pets in the '60s. It claims to have invented the department store window display, blowing bleached cornflakes for a Christmas mood during a warm winter in the late '30s. But then came this last Christmas window display...


SELYUKH: ...At the Lord & Taylor flagship in Manhattan. The retailer closed its Fifth Avenue store in January. The iconic building was sold, and now Lord & Taylor itself faces the same fate. Here's Rakesh Tondon, CEO of Le Tote.

RAKESH TONDON: We're definitely a startup, and we're taking the oldest retailer and making it into a startup as well.

SELYUKH: Le Tote is an online subscription service where you can rent nice clothes. Tondon says they've long wanted to have a physical footprint, a place where people could pick up and drop off their rentals, maybe rent heavy items like jackets or buy extra accessories. For $100 million, Le Tote will take over 38 Lord & Taylor locations.

TONDON: So their customers are very similar to our customers. There's a very big overlap.

SELYUKH: This is the latest example of a venerable department store trying to stay afloat. JC Penney and Macy's are dipping into used clothing sales. Barneys New York has declared bankruptcy; Sears just came out of one. Lord & Taylor's current owner, Canada's Hudson's Bay Company, plans to keep the real estate but will sell the Lord & Taylor brand to Le Tote. Tondon says he does not plan any layoffs.

Alina Selyukh, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Alina Selyukh
Alina Selyukh is a business correspondent at NPR, where she follows the path of the retail and tech industries, tracking how America's biggest companies are influencing the way we spend our time, money, and energy.