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What Happened to Rizzoli International Bookstores? Part II

Robbie Myers signs a copy of HEARST ONE HUNDRED TWENTY FIVE at Rizzoli Bookstore on October 9, 2012 in New York City.
Robbie Myers signs a copy of HEARST ONE HUNDRED TWENTY FIVE at Rizzoli Bookstore on October 9, 2012 in New York City.
Eugene Gologursky/Getty Images for Hearst Corporation

John Mutter reported in Publisher’s Weekly on May 17, 2001 (Volume 248 Issue 20) that Rizzoli, which at its height, had owned over a dozen stores and managed the American Institute of Architects (A.I.A.) Bookstore, as well, planned to close all but its flagship store in 2001 (“Rizzoli to Close All but Flagship Store”). Rizzoli had managed the A.I.A. Bookstore in the A.I.A. National Headquarters Building in Washington, D.C. since 1997, and relinquished control to the A.I.A. at the start of 2001.[1]

By the time Mutter wrote his article, Rizzoli had closed stores in Chicago; Boston; Williamsburg, Virginia; the World Financial Center (now Brookfield Place) in Lower Manhattan; and Santa Monica. The one in the SoHo neighborhood of Lower Manhattan was scheduled to close on May 20, 2001 and the one in Pasadena was scheduled to close June 30, 2001. The company planned to have all but four stores closed by Christmas.

Mutter wrote, “Rizzoli stores are elegant and either in high-end malls or fashionable urban shopping areas. With an average of 4,000 square feet of space, they feature cherry wood and marble floors; some have included the company's Art Boutiques, the gifts emporium. Others have coffee bars. Reportedly the decision to wind down the chain was made by the parent company, RCS Rizzoli, in Milan, Italy. Rizzoli is primarily a publisher and wants to focus on that business.”

The flagship store became known as the Rizzoli Bookstore. In 2008, one of the ways that Hearst Corporation celebrated its 125th anniversary by publishing several thousand copies of Hearst One Hundred Twenty Five, most of which were reserved as gifts for important visitors to the company’s headquarters, but 125 of which were sold for $125 each at the Rizzoli Bookstore, as explained here.

Two of the company’s magazine editors who contributed to the book, David Granger and Robbie Myers, signed copies of the book at the event “Charity Book Signing Of 'Hearst One Hundred Twenty Five' To Celebrate Anniversary at Rizzoli Bookstore” on October 9, 2012.

On Friday, April 6, 2012, Rizzoli International Publications announced that Rizzoli New York opened a Rizzoli Bookshop that day on the ninth floor of the Saks Fifth Avenue flagship store at 511 Fifth Avenue (across from Rockefeller Center on Fifth Avenue and across from St. Patrick’s Cathedral on 50th Street) on April 6, 2012. It was one of seven retailers to open boutiques inside the ninth floor of Saks Fifth Avenue.

Saks Fifth Avenue’s home department has moved to the ninth floor of the New York flagship store. The new 7,500 square-foot space includes six shop-in-shops plus a designer gallery space. Giftables and homewares have been selected with the Saks customer in mind, whether they are New York sophisticates, bi-coastal Angelenos, or luxury-seekers from around the globe.

“We’re thrilled to open our new home and gift department,” said Eric Jennings, Vice President and Fashion Director Men’s and Home. “We’ve enhanced the offerings from our most popular lines and carefully handpicked several new collections that will make home and gift an even more desirable destination at our flagship store.”

A Huffington Post writer called the Rizzoli Bookshop “stunningly beautiful.” It is worth noting here that another bookstore closed nearby on September 30, 2009, Librarie de France.

A tenant at Rockefeller Plaza since 1935, the bookstore was forced to close when the lease ended. The mail-order service of Librarie de France survives on the World Wide Web.

[1] The A.I.A. Store is located at 1735 New York Avenue NW. Also, the Philadelphia Chapter of the A.I.A. operates the A.I.A. Book Store and Design Center 1218 Arch Street in Philadelphia, which evolved from the A.I.A. national convention in Philadelphia in 1976. The St. Louis Chapter of the A.I.A. operates the A.I.A. St. Louis Bookstore at the Chapter Office in the Lammert Building, 911 Washington Avenue #100 in Saint Louis, having operated a bookstore in downtown St. Louis for over thirty-five years.