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Army & Navy holds final sale before closing forever due to COVID-19

Click to play video 'Army & Navy kicks off its liquidation sale' Army & Navy kicks off its liquidation sale
After announcing it was closing down for good last month, iconic retailer Army & Navy is back open, for a short time anyway, for its final liquidation sale.

Weeks after announcing plans to close its doors for good, Army & Navy stores reopened Thursday for one final liquidation sale.

The discount retailer had closed stores “temporarily” in March due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Click to play video 'Army & Navy to close permanently amid COVID-19 pandemic' Army & Navy to close permanently amid COVID-19 pandemic
Army & Navy to close permanently amid COVID-19 pandemic

Last month, president and CEO Jacqui Cohen announced that Army & Navy would close permanently after 101 years in business.

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Cohen says brick-and-mortar shops like hers were already facing serious challenges from online retailers like Amazon, and the COVID-19 pandemic proved to be the final straw.

“It just became insurmountable, really, sitting with all the spring and summer goods and no sales and not knowing when it would end,” she said.

Click to play video 'Squire Barnes on the 100th anniversary of the Army & Navy stores' Squire Barnes on the 100th anniversary of the Army & Navy stores
Squire Barnes on the 100th anniversary of the Army & Navy stores

The company has moved inventory from its Langley and Vancouver stores to its New Westminster location for one final sale, she said, expected to run for about six weeks. A similar sale is taking place at its Calgary location.

The closure of Army & Navy will mark the end of an era in Vancouver’s retail sector.

The company was founded in 1919 by Samuel Cohen, who parlayed a thriving trade in post-war military surplus into a discount department store chain.

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Click to play video '‘Sorry to see it go’: Calgary department store closes permanently because of COVID-19' ‘Sorry to see it go’: Calgary department store closes permanently because of COVID-19
‘Sorry to see it go’: Calgary department store closes permanently because of COVID-19

It currently has locations in Vancouver, the home of its flagship East Hastings Street store, New Westminster, Langley, Calgary and Edmonton.

Along with its low prices, Army & Navy is particularly known for its annual shoe sales, which have historically drawn long lineups.

“The Army & Navy department store will always be in my heart and certainly in a lot of people’s hearts,” Cohen said.

— With files from Simon Little & Julia Foy