We visited Barneys as the iconic department store prepares to close and found a bleak, nearly empty scene in total disarray

Barneys Uptown14

Bethany Biron/Business Insider

Barneys is expected to close in mid-February.

  • As Barneys nears its final days, inventory is growing sparse and stores are in a state of complete disarray as liquidation sales culminate. The two remaining stores in Manhattan are expected to close in mid-February, according to employees.
  • I visited the uptown flagship store on Madison Avenue and the downtown location on 7th Avenue and found bleak scenes at both locations, with empty shelves, ransacked beauty counters, and messy floors.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

For Barneys, the end's not near, it's essentially here.

As New York's iconic luxury department store prepares to close its doors in mid-February, store-wide liquidation sales are rapidly approaching final days as remaining inventory wanes.

On a recent visit to Manhattan's two stores - the Madison Avenue flagship and the downtown location on 7th Avenue - shelves were sparse and picked-over, and very few shoppers were seen braving the messy racks.

The most devoted bargain hunters can still score a deal, but only if they're willing to dig through disorganized piles of luxury items, which are discounted by as much as 90% off.

Here's what it was like visiting Barneys in its final days.

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I started our Barneys memorial shopping venture at the Madison Avenue flagship store uptown, where the once-elaborate window displays were as bleak as ever.

I started our Barneys memorial shopping venture at the Madison Avenue flagship store uptown, where the once-elaborate window displays were as bleak as ever.

As I entered the store, the emphatic red and yellow liquidation signs were blinding.

As I entered the store, the emphatic red and yellow liquidation signs were blinding.

I started downstairs in the beauty department, which was by far the most desolate part of the store.

I started downstairs in the beauty department, which was by far the most desolate part of the store.

On this messy counter, I found a depressing scene of perfume samples being sold in bulk from a storage bin.

On this messy counter, I found a depressing scene of perfume samples being sold in bulk from a storage bin.

Then I found even more sad samples in storage bins.

Then I found even more sad samples in storage bins.

Everywhere I looked, there were miscellaneous plastic bins filled with beauty products ...

Everywhere I looked, there were miscellaneous plastic bins filled with beauty products ...

... and I mean everywhere.

... and I mean everywhere.

The counters were in such a state of disarray, it looked like someone had ransacked the store.

The counters were in such a state of disarray, it looked like someone had ransacked the store.

All of the shelves were mostly empty ...

All of the shelves were mostly empty ...

... and individual brand counters were nearly barren.

... and individual brand counters were nearly barren.

Here, a lone foundation sits on an empty shelf.

Here, a lone foundation sits on an empty shelf.

Meanwhile, high-end brands like Tatcha were discounted at as low as $16.50.

Meanwhile, high-end brands like Tatcha were discounted at as low as $16.50.

Meanwhile, this $250 "beauty bag" was going for $25.

Meanwhile, this $250 "beauty bag" was going for $25.

Next, I made my way to the upper levels to see how the liquidation sale was faring in the other departments.

Next, I made my way to the upper levels to see how the liquidation sale was faring in the other departments.

Let's just say upstairs wasn't much better. The first thing I saw was an information box for inquiries on purchasing fixtures and equipment.

Let's just say upstairs wasn't much better. The first thing I saw was an information box for inquiries on purchasing fixtures and equipment.

Unlike in previous months, there were very few shoppers to be found on a Thursday afternoon.

Unlike in previous months, there were very few shoppers to be found on a Thursday afternoon.

In the men's department, tons of racks were nearly empty.

In the men's department, tons of racks were nearly empty.

Meanwhile, stickers were affixed to various fixtures around the store to indicate they had been sold, like this marble table ...

Meanwhile, stickers were affixed to various fixtures around the store to indicate they had been sold, like this marble table ...

... and also these chairs.

... and also these chairs.

The home goods area was scattered with totally random items, many of which were in boxes.

The home goods area was scattered with totally random items, many of which were in boxes.

In the women's department, I found these sparse racks of designer clothing ...

In the women's department, I found these sparse racks of designer clothing ...

... and also these.

... and also these.

Nearby was an extremely messy table with a bubblegum pink leather purse strewn atop a pile of disjointed clothing.

Nearby was an extremely messy table with a bubblegum pink leather purse strewn atop a pile of disjointed clothing.

Another floor was devoted to just fur jackets ...

Another floor was devoted to just fur jackets ...

... and rugs.

... and rugs.

Certain parts of the store were completely cleared out.

Certain parts of the store were completely cleared out.

The shoe department had probably the most inventory, though it was a bit of an eyesore.

The shoe department had probably the most inventory, though it was a bit of an eyesore.

I also spotted some bizarre items, like this display of dog ornaments for 80% off.

I also spotted some bizarre items, like this display of dog ornaments for 80% off.

I started to feel a bit glum in this ghost town of a store, so I decided it was time to call it a day.

I started to feel a bit glum in this ghost town of a store, so I decided it was time to call it a day.

Next, I made my way downtown to the location on 7th Avenue.

Next, I made my way downtown to the location on 7th Avenue.

A sign on the front door advertised "imperfect" women's clothing on the lower level.

A sign on the front door advertised "imperfect" women's clothing on the lower level.

As an imperfect woman myself, I decided to journey downstairs first in the hopes of scoring some major deals.

As an imperfect woman myself, I decided to journey downstairs first in the hopes of scoring some major deals.

However, these two dresses were the only pieces of apparel I could find.

However, these two dresses were the only pieces of apparel I could find.

So instead I turned my attention to the beauty department, which was just as bleak as at the uptown store.

So instead I turned my attention to the beauty department, which was just as bleak as at the uptown store.

I spotted a couple of brave shoppers scouring the nearly empty racks.

I spotted a couple of brave shoppers scouring the nearly empty racks.

At one point, a sales associate motioned to his colleague to prevent customers from rifling through drawers for additional products.

At one point, a sales associate motioned to his colleague to prevent customers from rifling through drawers for additional products.

Ultimately, I left the beauty department empty-handed.

Ultimately, I left the beauty department empty-handed.

Upstairs, the first thing I saw were these garish sale signs on giant flat-screen TVs.

 Upstairs, the first thing I saw were these garish sale signs on giant flat-screen TVs.

A sign on the wall boasted "new deeper discounts."

A sign on the wall boasted "new deeper discounts."

This floor was in a complete state of chaos, with items like this ball cap that reads "professional enthusiast" that seemed a little out of place.

This floor was in a complete state of chaos, with items like this ball cap that reads "professional enthusiast" that seemed a little out of place.

Nearby there was a stack of blankets (or perhaps scarves?) next to a stack of Barneys catalogs.

Nearby there was a stack of blankets (or perhaps scarves?) next to a stack of Barneys catalogs.

I somehow completely missed the sign stating they were $1 and threw one in my bag as a memento, but the security guard nearby said nothing. I'm sorry, Barneys.

I somehow completely missed the sign stating they were $1 and threw one in my bag as a memento, but the security guard nearby said nothing. I'm sorry, Barneys.

Unlike the beauty department, there were still quite a few handbags left at major discounts.

Unlike the beauty department, there were still quite a few handbags left at major discounts.

This bag was discounted from $3,950 to $1,580.

This bag was discounted from $3,950 to $1,580.

On the upper level, the shoe department was in disarray.

On the upper level, the shoe department was in disarray.

Men's was a bit better, though there was hardly anyone in sight.

Men's was a bit better, though there was hardly anyone in sight.

Freds, the beloved restaurant inside Barneys, is still open just for lunch.

Freds, the beloved restaurant inside Barneys, is still open just for lunch.

Signs in Freds read "cash only."

Signs in Freds read "cash only."

Farewell, Freds.

Farewell, Freds.

As I looped my way back down, still empty-handed, I felt compelled to buy something for posterity. A memento, if you will.

As I looped my way back down, still empty-handed, I felt compelled to buy something for posterity. A memento, if you will.

I was devoted to finding a Barneys relic on the cheap. However, it was definitely not going to be this creepy ceramic shoe decor that I found in the home goods area.

I was devoted to finding a Barneys relic on the cheap. However, it was definitely not going to be this creepy ceramic shoe decor that I found in the home goods area.

I considered buying a fixture, but then remembered I live in New York and have no room in my apartment.

I considered buying a fixture, but then remembered I live in New York and have no room in my apartment.

Eventually, I found a fun geometric art print and a Barneys brand leather tote, for a combined $60. However, it took 15 minutes just to find a sales associate to check out.

Eventually, I found a fun geometric art print and a Barneys brand leather tote, for a combined $60. However, it took 15 minutes just to find a sales associate to check out.

Ultimately, it was a very sad visit. Farewell, Barneys, may you live on in our hearts and closets.

Ultimately, it was a very sad visit. Farewell, Barneys, may you live on in our hearts and closets.
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