Thursday, February 25

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Landau store to continue business

It's been a pretty good couple of months for Lindi the Landau ram. First, he triumphantly returned in early December from his exile at the College of New Jersey. Now, he can rest easy in the knowledge that his home outside 102 Nassau Street is safe.

Landau's – a store specializing in wool products – will be able to finance its remaining debts from its bankruptcy status, store owner Robert Landau said.

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The store's financial difficulties began in the late 1980s when Landau's Inc. invested in undeveloped land in West Windsor. The real estate was guaranteed by the store, and when the deal went wrong, Landau's had to file for bankruptcy protection to prevent its creditors from seizing its merchandise.

"Filing (for bankruptcy) gave us time to finalize what we're doing and to continue business," Landau said.

He added that while the bankruptcy sale did help generate some income, it was the new financing plan that really saved the store.

After declaring bankruptcy, Landau found a financing partner to ship him merchandise, as the store itself did not have any credit with which to order the goods. With the end of bankruptcy in sight, Landau must now pay off this partner.

To do this, Landau said the store will hold a liquidation sale beginning Thursday. The sale will clear out the merchandise obtained through the interim backer and generate enough cash to pay him back, he explained.

The store will be closed through Wednesday to prepare for the event. The sale begins Thursday and will run until March 1.

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"After that, we will return to business as usual," Landau said.

He added that his experience over the past six months was an educational one.

"We learned that people still appreciate quality at value prices," he said, noting that when the sale began, and the store sold $300 cashmere sweaters for $250. "We sold more in four days than we expected to all season."

"As the value got better, the volume of business we did skyrocketed," he added. "In the future, we will aspire to provide quality products at value prices, about 20 to 25 percent off market price."

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The sale also exposed some areas of the store that could be expanded, specifically menswear.

"We learned that there are still men in the area who want traditional style menswear," Landau said. "Since Henry Ballot and the English Shop closed, there's no one offering that sort of merchandise."

As a result, Landau's men's department will undergo a 30- to 35-percent growth in the future, he said.

"We won't sell men's suits, but our blazers sell very well," Landau said. He added the merchandise will be comparable to that found from Brooks Brothers and other designers, but at much more affordable prices.

As for the land in West Windsor that caused all the trouble in the first place, Landau said that he still has plans for it, but declined to reveal the particulars.

"We're hoping to develop the land into something that (University students) will be very interested in," he said.

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