Coming Soon To A Familiar Location: The Rebirth Of Harmon Discount

NEW ROCHELLE, NY — New Rochelle’s newest business was a popular local shopping stop for years — until it was suddenly erased from the retail landscape, but a Westchester businessman is giving the once-thriving concept a second chance and he’s starting close to home.

Just a few months after signs declaring a going-out-of-business liquidation sale went up in the display windows at the Harmon Discount store in New Rochelle’s Wykagyl neighborhood, new signs have appeared declaring that Harmon Discount is “Opening Soon.”

Investor Jonah Raskas admits to taking some pride in breathing new life into a business that his friends and neighbors considered a part of the fabric of the local community.

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“People are really exited about the prospect of having Harmon back,” Raskas told Patch.” If you look on sites like Nextdoor, there’s a real buzz around it. People miss [Harmon], and feel like they are getting something back that was lost.”

But, Raskas cautions that while it’s gratifying to help bring back a missing piece to the retail scene, the decisions behind it weren’t based on nostalgia or sentimentality.

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“The decision to reopen, and where to reopen, were data-informed,” Raskas said. “Harmon didn’t fail. It got shut down because Bed Bath & Beyond failed. We are looking at which stores did really well and we have that ability to focus on the right places at the right time where the customers really want us back again. We can be patient and the best business decisions are made when you are patient.”

When Raskas bought Harmon’s intellectual property out of bankruptcy last year, he knew he had a concept that was proven, but for all intents and purposes, the business had ceased to exist. All the Harmon leases ended with the Bed Bath & Beyond bankruptcy and the inventory was sold off in liquidation.

The new company was in a good position to begin renegotiating leases, like the one in New Rochelle. Raskas said that about 90 percent of the spaces formerly occupied by Harmon remain vacant. In many of those cases, other tenants in those shopping centers report decreased sales since the Harmon stores are no longer bringing in traffic.

“Harmon has a draw of its own,” Raskas explained. “There are any number of places you can go for housewares, but what Harmon offers is truly one-of-a-kind. I don’t think there is any place that does trial-size travel products in quite the way Harmon does. It’s a place to buy health and beauty products at everyday low prices, yes, but you never know when you might find something unexpected that you didn’t even know you were looking for.”

Raskas said the company is looking at the possibility of reopening other Westchester stores in their former locations. He added that the company had a strong expansion plan in place when its parent company simply ran out of cash.

But, rapid expansion plans aren’t in the cards for right now. Raskas said the initial job will be to regain the magic that was lost when Harmon closed its doors.

“Harmon customers had a loyalty to a business that was special,” Raskas said. “We want to make certain we are doing everything we can to recapture what made Harmon unique, and if we are doing that right, the growth will come.”

SEE ALSO: All Harmon Face Value Stores In Westchester Will Permanently Close

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