In honor of his deceased father, Brooklyn native George Farkas named his first store Alexander’s. Opened in 1928 on Third Avenue in the Bronx, the store specifically targeted members of the middle class, providing them with discounts on designer clothing and high-quality private-label goods. Alexander’s managed to thrive during the Great Depression, opening a new location on Fordham Road in 1933. During this period, the store was known for its discount bargains and had more sales per square foot than any other store in the United States.
Over the coming years, Farkas opened more stores across New York City, with a shop in Rego Park opening in 1959 and its flagship store on 59th Street in Manhattan debuting in 1963. After the completion of the Mall at the World Trade Center in 1974, Alexander’s also became its anchor store. Occupying 1/6th of the World Trade Center’s 50,000 square foot mall, Alexander’s store was located underneath 4 World Trade Center to the east of the south tower. Alexander’s was most famous for an abstract art mural painted on glass with enamel by the Polish artist Stefan Knapp, which was displayed on the outside of the company’s Garden State Plaza location in Paramus, New Jersey.
At its peak, Alexander’s included 16 stores. However, beginning in the 1970s, customers began flocking to larger competitors such as Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s and to discount stores like Kmart. This downward trend continued into the ’80s, with Alexander’s making its last profit from retail operations in 1987. By 1992, Steven Roth, who had taken over operations of the company, was forced to declare bankruptcy and shut down 11 of its stores.