Top retailer Boscov’s is celebrating 100 years

Al Boscov heads a retail empire started by his father, Solomon.

Al Boscov heads a retail empire started by his father, Solomon.

Boscov’s is having a birthday, a milestone, 100-year celebration of a successful family-run business.

The owner, Albert Boscov, the second generation at the helm of the department store chain, kicked off the celebration in September, and it’s continuing through the year, with sales, specials and folksy stories printed in weekly advertisements inserted in newspapers, including the Salisbury Independent.

“Our customers are loving it. We are getting some that haven’t been here before and also a new breed of customer,” said Salisbury store manager Joe Nastase.

“They like the stories in the newspaper every week. They are really enjoying reading them,” said Nastase, who supervises the local store’s 170 employees.

Weekly stories trace the history of the business and highlight events with humor. One article was about the mischievous antics of Zippy the Chimp, hired for a store opening in Philadelphia.

“Those stories are a very good promotion. We’re stronger than ever,” Nastase said.

“Many stores that call themselves department stores really have become specialty stores,” Boscov wrote in a news release, “but we still believe in the traditional department store where in one shopping trip you can find everything you want.”

“We really are one-stop shopping,” Nastase said.

“We have a candy department where we make our own fudge, here in the store. We have toys. The only thing we don’t have is groceries. We thrive on customer service,” he said.

With 43 stores in Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Delaware and Ohio, Boscov’s many departments include kitchen goods, clothing, gifts, jewelry, fragrances, shoes and furniture.

Boscov’s was founded by Albert Boscov’s father, Solomon, who, according to the news release, “immAl Boscov 3igrated to the United States to raise money to bring his family to America for a better life.”

“After a brief stop in Washington, D.C., he headed to Reading, where he was told everyone spoke Yiddish,” the release states.

He learned they were really speaking Pennsylvania Dutch, but it was close enough to Yiddish to allow him to talk to them.

“He bought $20 worth of merchandise from a local wholesaler and took a trolley to the end of the line. He walked from farm to farm with a bundle, peddling his merchandise and sleeping in the farmers’ barns. He thanked each one by cleaning the barn, combing the horses and giving the farmer’s wife a small gift, a pack of sewing needles. The 100-year anniversary of the founding of Boscov’s in Reading is a tribute to my father Solomon Boscov,” Boscov wrote.

Through the end of the year, Nastase said, “we’re going to celebrate by continuing to do what we’ve been doing, looking at prices and having some anniversary pricing.”

Customers who spend $20 can buy an item of the week for $1. One day, cupcakes were handed out  in the store. Children received coloring books and adults were given cookbooks containing employees’ recipes.

Shoppers can be photographed next to a big cutout of  the owner. “They stop and take a picture with Mr. Boscov, yes they do. A lot of our customers who have been with us for such a long time will get a picture with their cell  phones,” Nastase said.

The store is sponsoring a drive for the Maryland Food Bank. “Our employees and customers participate in the food drive,” said Nastase, who started working there in 2006.

“We’re very oriented to our consumers and to the community and we try to help out as much as we can,” he said.

“It’s a great company. Mr. Boscov is very kind to his employees. I love working here,”  he said.

Reach Susan Canfora at scanfora@newszap.com.

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