Bloomingdale’s to close Old Orchard store

The company plans to open a smaller format, called Bloomie’s, in the upscale Skokie mall.

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The Bloomingdale’s store in Skokie, shown prior to its 1995 opening.

The Bloomingdale’s store in Skokie, shown prior to its 1995 opening.

Sun-Times file

Bloomingdale’s is closing its department store in Skokie’s Westfield Old Orchard mall while planning to open a smaller format store in the mall.

The decision will deal a blow to a mall commonly called Old Orchard, which lost some tenants during the pandemic and in 2018 saw another anchor tenant, Lord & Taylor, pull out. The mall’s owner, Paris-based Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield, has said it wants to sell many holdings in a “radical reduction” of its U.S. portfolio.

Bloomingdale’s said the Old Orchard department store will close by the end of October, with clearance sales beginning Sept. 6. The 200,000-square-foot store opened in Skokie in 1995, heralding its arrival with a performance on piano by Ray Charles.

The company will open a 50,000-square-foot apparel store in Old Orchard called Bloomie’s. Charles Anderson, director of stores, said, “The new concept remains authentic to the Bloomingdale’s brand yet reinterprets it on a smaller scale that is infused with energy and ripe for discovery.”

The Bloomie’s will occupy a former Barnes & Noble space, probably in November, a company spokesman said.

The company’s marketing promises Bloomie’s will provide a “casual, contemporary and highly curated experience.” The concept’s online description said cocktails are served at the store and customers can get styling advice.

It will be the second Bloomie’s to open, the first having launched in Fairfax, Virginia, in 2021.

The spokesman declined to discuss other details, including the rationale for the closing. Bloomingdale’s, owned by Macy’s, has 33 stores and 20 outlets. Traditional department stores have been hit hard by a trend toward online shopping that the pandemic accelerated.

Old Orchard, however, draws on the wealthy North Shore market and has survived the downturn better than most competitors. With Bloomingdale’s closure, it still will have two department store anchors: Macy’s and Nordstrom.

The mall’s owner and general manager could not be reached for comment.

Len Becker, economic development manager for Skokie, said Old Orchard still has strong appeal to retailers because of its trade area. He said the decision to open a Bloomie’s there fits with a desire by owners to keep the mall “fresh and relevant.”

“Over time, we’ll be seeing these large department store spaces get redeveloped for smaller users,” Becker said. He said the former Lord & Taylor had been partially leased month to month to a center for virtual reality games, but Becker expects a redevelopment of the site in 2023.

In March, Skokie’s Village Board increased its sales tax rate by 1 percentage point for sales at Old Orchard. The increase will partially reimburse the mall’s ownership for $100 million in improvements. Village officials said the work will keep Old Orchard as a strong contributor to the local tax base.

Bloomingdale’s other local locations include a department store at 900 N. Michigan Ave. and outlets in Rosemont, Northbrook and Schaumburg.

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