Fifth Avenue

Fifth Avenue

Fifth Avenue, famous north-south street of the borough of Manhattan, New York City. It begins at Washington Square and ends at the Harlem River. Between 34th and 59th streets, Fifth Ave. is lined with fashionable department stores and specialty shops. Fronting the avenue are the Empire State Building, the New York Public Library, Rockefeller Center, St. Patrick's Cathedral, and the Guggenheim Museum. From 59th to 110th streets it borders Central Park; on its east side are tall apartment houses (interspersed with formerly private homes), built on the site of the elegant mansions of 50 years ago. On the west side of the avenue between 80th and 84th streets is the Metropolitan Museum of Art. North of the park Fifth Ave. runs through Marcus Garvey Park and Harlem.
Saks Fifth Avenue is an upscale American department store owned and operated by Saks Fifth Avenue Enterprises (SFAE), a subsidiary of Saks Incorporated. It competes in the high-end department store market with Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdale's, Bergdorf Goodman, Barneys New York and Lord & Taylor. Saks is headquartered in New York City.

Saks Fifth Avenue Enterprises (SFAE) consists of 54 Saks Fifth Avenue stores, 48 Saks Off 5th stores, and


Saks Fifth Avenue is the successor of a business founded by Andrew Saks in 1867 and incorporated in New York in 1902 as Saks & Company. Andrew died in 1912 and in 1923 Saks & Co. merged with Gimbel Brothers, Inc., operating as a separate autonomous subsidiary. On September 15, 1924, Horace Saks and Bernard Gimbel opened Saks Fifth Avenue in New York City.

When Bernard's cousin Adam Gimbel became President of Saks Fifth Avenue in 1926 after Bernard's sudden passing, the company took on national aspirations. The very first branch store opened in 1926 in the city of Palm Beach, Florida as a resort store, followed by a Southampton resort store in 1928. The first full-line year-round Saks store was opened in Chicago in 1929, followed by another resort store in Miami Beach, Florida. In 1938 Saks expanded to the West Coast, opening in Beverly Hills, California. By the end of the 1930s Saks Fifth Avenue had a total of 10 stores, including resort locations such as Sun Valley, Mount Stowe and Newport. More full-line stores followed with Detroit in 1940 and Pittsburgh in 1949. In downtown Pittsburgh, the company moved to its own freestanding location approximately one block from its former home on the fourth floor in the downtown Gimbel's flagship. The San Francisco location opened in 1952. More expansion followed from the 1960s through the 1990s including Texas, the Midwest, and the South.

The chain's first international location, operated under license by SFAE, opened in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, courting the wealth of the oil-rich Middle East and making Saks a global store. Locations would follow in the United Arab Emirates in Dubai City and Bur Dubai. In November of 2007, SFAE's fourth licensed international location opened in one of Mexico City's upscale shopping centers, the Centro Comercial Santa Fé, marking the brand's first foray into Latin America.

BATUS Inc. acquired Gimbel Bros., Inc. and its Saks Fifth Avenue subsidiary in 1973. In 1990, BATUS sold Saks to Investcorp S.A., which after investing in the company and weathering the early 1990s recession took Saks public in 1996 as Saks Holdings, Inc. In 1998, Saks Holdings Inc. was acquired by Proffitt's, Inc. Upon closing of the acquisition, Proffitt's changed its name to Saks Incorporated.

Since the purchase of Saks Fifth Avenue by Proffitt's Inc., the company stock has taken a beating from the original opening price when Saks Fifth Avenue became a public company. The new Saks Incorporated has had one change in business direction after another without the appearance of anyone in control or guiding the corporation. Saks Inc. has sold off all other retailers with the exception of Club Libby Lu, a small acquisition based in Chicago, Illinois, and SFA. The parent company still maintains a support center in Jackson, MS.

In 2005 vendors filed against Saks alleging unlawful chargebacks. The SEC formally investigated the complaint and Saks settled with the SEC in 2007.

In August 2007 the Post Office began an experimental program selling the plus Zip Code extension to businesses. The first company to do this was Saks Fifth Avenue which received the zip code of 10022-SHOE for the eighth floor shoe department in its flagship Fifth Avenue (Manhattan) store. Today, the New York flagship store accounts for 20% of the entire chain's annual revenue.

In popular culture

  • In the film Clueless, Saks was mentioned as one of Cher and Dionne's favorite department stores.
  • In the 2002 musical Thoroughly Modern Millie, the titular character Millie Dillmount mentions "buying her clothes at Saks Fifth Avenue" as she describes her desire to live a rich and high-class life in New York City in the song "How the Other Half Lives.
  • Actress Winona Ryder was caught shoplifting at the Saks Fifth Avenue store in Beverly Hills, California, on December 12, 2001.
  • In Shrek 2's Kingdom of Far Far Away, it is parodied as Saxon Fifth Avenue.
  • In the 2005 film adaptation of Steve Martin's novella Shopgirl, Claire Danes plays Mirabelle Buttersfield, an aspiring artist and sales associate at the infrequently visited glove counter of the Beverly Hills Saks Fifth Avenue. Interestingly this was changed for the film; in the novella, Mirabelle works for Neiman Marcus.
  • In the 2004 movie Shall We Dance?, Susan Sarandon's character Beverly Clark works at Saks Fifth Avenue.
  • In the episode of The Simpsons when Lisa went shopping, she went to "Saks Fifth Grade."
  • In an episode of Seinfeld, Helen Seinfeld obtains a gift very valuable in the eyes of Cosmo Kramer (in this case, hand cream), who asks her the source of the item. Helen replies "Saks Fifth Avenue in Miami," upon which Kramer says, "I'm gonna remember that if I'm ever in Florida." Jerry responds sarcastically, saying, "Ya, or if you're ever on Fifth Avenue here in New York City, you could get some there."
  • In the 1986 Gene Wilder movie, "Haunted Honeymoon", Dom DeLuise's character is disparaging about the activities and supposed humor of his cross dressing nephew by stating "Yes. And, when the police dragged him out of the ladies' room at Saks Fifth Avenue, that was fun!"
  • In the popular rock opera "Rent", Saks is mentioned in the song "Christmas Bells", in the line, "Christmas Bells are ringing, Christmas bells are ringing, Christmas bells are singing on TV, at Saks!"
  • In the popular American sitcom 'Friends' in the Season 1 episode 'The One with all the Poker', after sending out resumes to many different companies requesting jobs/interviews, Rachel Green gets offered an interview at Saks Fifth Avenue, to which Phoebe Buffay replies "It's like the Mothership is calling you home!"
  • On the series "Sex and the City", the flagship store was a favorite shopping spot for Carrie Bradshaw.
  • Mercedes-Benz has created 20 S600s in cooperation with Saks Fifth Avenue and marketed as the S600 Saks Edition; they come in a special color combination and include nearly every option; all were purchased within the first seven minutes of being on the market.
  • The daughter of founder Andrew Saks, Leila Saks Meyer (1886-1957), survived the sinking of the RMS Titanic in 1912. She and her husband Edgar J. Meyer had returned from Europe on the ship to attend Andrew Saks' funeral.
  • In the movie "White Chicks", Marcus Copeland [as Tiffany Wilson] says, 'I'm sorry, but uhm... we just saw your new video. Yeah, they had a screening over at Saks Fifth Avenue in the security office. A klept-ho-maniac!' Megan Vandergeld replies arrogantly, 'Your mother shops at Saks.'
  • In Sabrina, the Larrabee townhouse was converted into Saks Fifth Avenue's flagship store.
  • In Gossip Girl, Blair and Serena are always seen shopping at Saks and Bendels. Once, Jenny states, "People at school buy shoes from Saks and Bendels, I can't be seen walking around in someone's old shoes!"

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