Edward Finkelstein, former Macy’s Chief, 89

Edward Finkelstein

Edward Finkelstein

NEW YORK-Edward Finkelstein, who is credited with the creation of the highly successful Macy’s Cellar but who as chairman led the retailer to bankruptcy, has died. He was 89.

Finkelstein’s death was confirmed by his son, Daniel, in a published report. He joined Macy’s in 1949 as a fabrics buyer, and rose through the ranks to become president of Macy’s California. In this post, in the early 1970s, he created the concept for Macy’s Cellar.

The Cellar debuted in San Francisco in 1971 and featured a 16-foot wide aisle with a series of shops along the way. “By building The Cellar, we attracted a whole new set of customers,” Finkelstein told HFN in an interview published in 2000.

Finkelstein was promoted to president of Macy’s New York in 1974, after which he brought the Cellar concept to the flagship store on West 34th Street. He was named chairman of Macy’s in 1980.

According to the published reports, in 1986, he joined with about 400 Macy’s executives to take control of the retailer in a leveraged buyout. Two years later, Macy’s acquired the I. Magnin and Bullock department-store chains from Federated Department Stores, taking on more debt. After a period of weak sales and tough competition, Macy’s filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in early 1992. Finkelstein resigned three months later.

Aside from his son, Daniel, Finkelstein is survived by his wife, Myra; another son, Mitchell; six grandchildren; and a great-grandchild.