Fivestory Moves Up to New Space on Madison Avenue

Fivestory is on the move again.

The luxury women’s specialty store owned by apparel industry veteran Karen Murray has relocated a block north on Madison Avenue.

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Murray purchased the business in 2019 from Claire Olshan who had opened the curated, experiental store with her father, Fred Distenfeld, in 2012. At that time, it was located in a five-story townhouse — hence the name — at 18 East 69th Street.

But Murray had always hoped to find a space on Madison Avenue, and she managed to find a prime spot at 1020 Madison Avenue at 79th Street, between Serafina Fabulous Pizza and La Maison du Chocolat — another five-level space.

But just as she made the decision to move, the COVID-19 pandemic hit, forcing all retailers to close. “I moved on March 11, 2020, and everything shut down two days later,” she said. “I was sitting in my new location surrounded by boxes.”

After surviving the forced closure as well as a break-in during the early days of the pandemic, Murray reopened when she could and did her best to lure customers back in to shop when they returned to Manhattan and felt safe venturing into a store.

But once the lease was up for renewal at that space earlier this year, she knew it was time to move again. “It was a spectacular space, but it was huge, hard to shop and expensive,” she said. “I wanted to be on one floor in a more-shopable space.”

So she left the 4,000-square-foot location that had also housed a vintage, or “pre-loved” department , a gift and home area and an art gallery.

The window of the new store.

The new space, at 1044 Madison Avenue, measures around 2,900 square feet and is located only a few storefronts away, between 79th and 80th Streets. The new space is located right below the Valery Joseph Salon, a popular spot for the upscale Upper East Side community. “That was a big draw for me,” Murray said, adding that the salon will be partnering with her on Thursday night at the store’s grand opening by offering complimentary hair and makeup to guests.

The new shop carries the same upscale designer mix as well as the vintage department.

Murray stayed in the 1020 Madison location until July and moved into this spot last month. She will finally get the chance Thursday to cut the red ribbon she has wanted to snip since buying the business.

At the opening event, Murray said several designers that she carries are expected to attend, including Prabal Gurung, Turkish designer Amir Taghi, TWP’s Trish Wescoat Pound and others. During the event, DMN will be holding a trunk show.

Murray said that although her first couple of years of ownership have been rocky, she’s is hopeful that she can “make the New York store big and successful” now that she’s found a new home.

Since buying the business, she also opened a store in Palm Beach, Fla., that has been a success “since Day One,” she said. The 2,500-square-foot store opened in the fall of 2021. Murray also has a store in Southampton, N.Y. — a 900-square-foot permanent store on Jobs Lane — that opened in the spring of 2021. “We had a good two years but this year was softer,” she said. As a result, that store has closed and Murray is looking at alternatives. “I’m evaluating it now and then I’ll decide, but we’ll probably move,” she said.

Murray has had a long career in fashion; she has been president of VF Sportswear overseeing Nautica and has also worked at Gant and Liz Claiborne. She also served as chief executive officer of Sequential Brands Group before venturing out on her own by buying Fivestory.

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