We went to Barneys right after liquidation sales began and saw the measly discounts that have prompted complaints from shoppers

Barneys

Bethany Biron/Business Insider

Not so much of a bargain here.

  • Barneys New York began liquidation sales this week, both in its seven remaining stores and online, after the company was sold to Authentic Brands Group in bankruptcy court last week.
  • Despite buzz over the sales, many shoppers took to social media to scoff at the meager discounts, as most items are priced at just 5-10% below their original cost. According to a Barneys spokesperson, the discounts will increase in the coming weeks, and "every last item will be sold."
  • We visited the Barneys flagship store on Madison Avenue and noticed a confusing array of sales.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Barneys New York officially kicked off its liquidation sale this week, but some shoppers are unimpressed with the discounts.

Sales began in stores and online just a few days after the iconic luxury retailer sold to Authentic Brands Group in bankruptcy court, a deal that will effectively shutter all remaining stores. In the wake of the announcement, Barneys enthusiasts expressed sadness for the loss of a New York institution, while others prepared excitedly for the sales. Advertisement

However, it didn't take long for shoppers to take to Twitter to scoff at the 5% markdowns and bemoan the store for its pridefulness and "preciousness." Further exacerbating matters, many items from LVMH-owned fashion brands currently remain full price.

According to a Barneys spokesperson, discounts will rise in the coming weeks before the liquidation sale culminates at the end of the holiday shopping season.

"Every last item will be sold," the spokesperson said, noting that shoppers should visit brick-and-mortar locations for additional promotions.
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"As with the nature of this kind of sale, discounts typically start low and progressively deepen," the spokesperson said. "So shoppers can expect deeper discounts as inventory sells out."

We visited the Barneys flagship store on Madison Avenue on Thursday afternoon, and it's clear the luxury department is aiming to maintain appearances. In certain areas, it was impossible to decipher whether sales were happening at all - signs were arbitrarily placed or completely blank, and some sales associates seemed unsure about the discount amounts.Regardless, there's no doubt the retailer is aiming to go out with style and aplomb. Here's what it was like.Advertisement

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The Barneys flagship on Madison Avenue is one of the company's seven remaining stores and also one of its most iconic, serving as a cultural touchpoint in beloved television series like "Sex and the City" and "Friends."

The Barneys flagship on Madison Avenue is one of the company's seven remaining stores and also one of its most iconic, serving as a cultural touchpoint in beloved television series like "Sex and the City" and "Friends."

The store is expected to be fully liquidated and shuttered by the end of 2019.

As we approached, we spotted bright red and yellow sale signs in the windows, with the cheeky statement "goodbuys before goodbyes."

As we approached, we spotted bright red and yellow sale signs in the windows, with the cheeky statement "goodbuys before goodbyes."

"Barneys is a cultural institution synonymous with high-end fashion, creative style and grace," Scott Carpenter — president of retail solutions at Great American Group, the company overseeing the liquidation sale — said in a press release. "This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for its most loyal customers to buy items that rarely go on sale at markdown prices."

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We also saw this sign alerting passersby that everything must be sold.

We also saw this sign alerting passersby that everything must be sold.

Once inside, we were immediately struck by just how minimal the sales actually were. $2,137 down from $2,250 ... what a steal?

Once inside, we were immediately struck by just how minimal the sales actually were. $2,137 down from $2,250 ... what a steal?

In the student-run blog NYU Local, writer Izzie Ramirez referred to the liquidation as a "fake sale," pointing out some of the most expensive items and their marginal corresponding discounts — including a $39,350 crocodile skin bag, on sale for $37,382.50.

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Not much of a bargain here, either.

Not much of a bargain here, either.

Though Barneys had clearly worked to maintain a luxurious veneer even as it liquidates, we saw a few signs of disarray, like this this pile of sales tags.

Though Barneys had clearly worked to maintain a luxurious veneer even as it liquidates, we saw a few signs of disarray, like this this pile of sales tags.
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In the handbag section, we saw this Burberry fanny pack available at a 5% discount.

In the handbag section, we saw this Burberry fanny pack available at a 5% discount.

So many posh bags, such small discounts.

So many posh bags, such small discounts.
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We noticed that many of the sales tags were completely blank, leaving shoppers to guess at the discount.

We noticed that many of the sales tags were completely blank, leaving shoppers to guess at the discount.

Up in women's apparel, we found even more blank tags, including this one stuck to a rogue bag positioned among miscellaneous shoes missing their counterparts.

Up in women's apparel, we found even more blank tags, including this one stuck to a rogue bag positioned among miscellaneous shoes missing their counterparts.
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Blank tags galore.

Blank tags galore.

There was not a sales sign in sight on the lower level, home to beauty products, cosmetics, and fragrances.

There was not a sales sign in sight on the lower level, home to beauty products, cosmetics, and fragrances.
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Eventually we had to ask if products on this floor were on sale at all, and we learned that everything except for LVMH-owned cosmetics was 5% off.

Eventually we had to ask if products on this floor were on sale at all, and we learned that everything except for LVMH-owned cosmetics was 5% off.

On other floors, we continued to find more generic sales signs on the floor, but no further details on discounts.

On other floors, we continued to find more generic sales signs on the floor, but no further details on discounts.
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Some areas were slightly more organized and informative, like this area that clearly denoted a rack as 10% off ...

Some areas were slightly more organized and informative, like this area that clearly denoted a rack as 10% off ...

... and this section.

... and this section.
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As we wandered through the store, we spotted more signs of demise including boxes of hangers and messy displays on the floor.

As we wandered through the store, we spotted more signs of demise including boxes of hangers and messy displays on the floor.

There were also products missing from certain areas, including a lost boot from this display in the shoe department.

There were also products missing from certain areas, including a lost boot from this display in the shoe department.
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Similar to the beauty department, the outerwear section showed no demarcation of sales or liquidation, which was confusing.

Similar to the beauty department, the outerwear section showed no demarcation of sales or liquidation, which was confusing.

The same was true for women's contemporary apparel.

The same was true for women's contemporary apparel.
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Aside from this sign, we had no idea which sales were taking place in the men's department.

Aside from this sign, we had no idea which sales were taking place in the men's department.

Other sections were just seemingly marked down at random and used inconsistent signage ...

Other sections were just seemingly marked down at random and used inconsistent signage ...
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... like this pile of fur hats.

... like this pile of fur hats.

Household goods and decor, located next to Fred's restaurant on the top floor, was among the most busy areas.

Household goods and decor, located next to Fred's restaurant on the top floor, was among the most busy areas.
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That was perhaps because it was clear that the entire floor was 10% off — no room for confusion.

That was perhaps because it was clear that the entire floor was 10% off — no room for confusion.

Here were some more discounted home goods.

Here were some more discounted home goods.
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We left without buying anything because even at 5% off, it was just too expensive. But we can't deny it's truly the end of an era.

We left without buying anything because even at 5% off, it was just too expensive. But we can't deny it's truly the end of an era.