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Boscovs is a department store founded in Pennsylvania by Solomon Boscov. His company has expanded to a successful department store chain in a time when many in this industry are struggling. Today, the stores earn $1.2 billion in sales with locations in 7 states. As of 2017, it employs 5,800 people.
Boscovs is a family-owned department store chain headed by company chairman Jim Boscov. Jim recently took the helm of the department store after the long-time chairman, his Uncle Albert Boscov, died on February 10, 2017 at the age of 87. On February 1, 2017 Albert Boscov announced publicly that he had terminal pancreatic cancer. He said that he had confidence in the company’s leadership and touted the fact the company was expanding its number of stores when other retailers were shuttering their brick-and-mortar locations. He also expressed his love to those in his company.
Albert Boscov graduated from Reading High School and earned a degree in business from Drexel University. His first business was a sandwich shop. He served in the Navy during the Korean War and returned to open the company’s first full-service department store in 1962. He was married to his wife, Eunice, who he met in the Adirondacks. He was active in many charities, including as founder of Our City Reading.
This nonprofit organization helps to restore abandoned buildings in the downtown Reading area. He was also instrumental in setting up a senior citizen’s center and Police Athletic League in Reading., Pennsylvania.
Jim Boscov, current Chairman and CEO of the company, has more than 40 years of experience in the retail industry. He began his career with the company in the 1970s as an Assistant Store Manager. He has held various positions in the company over the years, including those in Store Planning and Construction, Director of various departments, Buyer, Store Manager, Director of Advertising, and Vice Chairman. Jim Boscov earned a Bachelor of Arts degree and a Master degree from Tufts University. He is a member of the United Way of Berks County and the Berks County Community Foundation.
Solomon “Sol” Boscov came to Reading, Pennsylvania from Russia in 1911 with $1.37 in cash. He worked as a traveling salesman when he first arrived in the United States, with about $8 worth of merchandise. Boscov opened his first store in downtown Reading, Pennsylvania. In the 1960s, Solomon Boscov began building stores in the suburbs of Pennsylvania. By 1968, he had expanded his enterprise to five stores with 2,200 employees. At that time, his sales were greater than $50 million.
In 1960, Solomon retired and his son Albert (Al) Boscov took over as head of the company. In 1980, Al bought one of Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania’s last downtown department stores. It was the company’s first multi-story building. The company expanded their stores to the outlet market of the Philadelphia area in the late 1980s. These stores were renamed with the Boscovs name in the 1990s.
In 2006, Al retired and his nephew Kenneth Lakin became chairman and chief executive of the company. Lakin opened 10 new stores by 2008. The stores did not perform, and by August 2008, influenced by the economic downturn during this time, the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Al emerged from his retirement to lead the company out of this difficult time. Ten stores were closed, and the company recovered from bankruptcy in September 2009.
Albert Boscov traveled to the Federal Bankruptcy Court proceeding himself. Despite the fact that the proceeding was technical in nature, held in a near-empty courtroom, and could have been handled by his attorney, he still attended. Boscov rescued the company after his retirement by buying it back from a bankruptcy auction for $307 million.
Stable Management is a Strength
The turnover of employees at the company is low. This is at the management level and throughout the company. This allows the company to promote people from within the company with knowledge of the business. The company also uses a management training program which recruits college graduates and current employees that show potential for advancement. These employees are provided with instruction and on-the-job training relevant to the retail industry.
Products and Services
For almost a century, the company has been providing well-known brands and services to its customers with over 200 departments available. Customers can shop in stores on online. The company offers free gift wrap in its store. Boscovs offers many services to its customers. This includes a gift registry (for weddings, babies, or holidays), optical centers, and even catering. The company also offers appliance servicing on appliances sold in its stores, including televisions.
Its stores can be a one-stop shop for those planning a wedding. It offers a wedding gift registry, catering services, and even travel booking. They also offer a registry consultant’s services by calling 1-800-284-8155.
Stores & Locations
The company has 47 locations in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Its company headquarters islocated in Reading (Exeter Township) Pennsylvania. They offer apparel, accessories, beauty products, furniture, gifts, housewares, shoes, and toys to their customers.
The company’s success is unusual in a time when many department stores are closing. Boscovs has impressive sales of $1.2 billion in 2017. They continue to invest in their older stores through renovation. They also plan to expand to the state of Rhode Island in 2019, taking over the space vacated by Nordstrom in the Providence Place Mall.
Boscovs Department stores use eco-friendly practices. In 2013, they report that they recycled over 13 million pounds, or 73%, of its waste material. This was a 5% increase of recycling from 2011. The majority of the company’s recycling was from cardboard and wooden pallets. The company also recycled its plastic hangers, office paper, and plastic film.
In 2011, the store expanded its energy conservation plans by investing in solar power at its Vineland, New Jersey store. The company estimated that this installation saved over 1.3 million kilowatt-hours (KWHs) in a year in that store alone. The company also plans to expand its solar investment to its stores in Delaware, Maryland, and New York. Other energy-saving practice adopted by the company include replacing incandescent lighting with LEDs.
They updated 2,500 fixtures in 2012 for an estimated savings of 295,000 KWHs. The plan is to continue this practice for continued savings in the future. The office and store areas also estimate that they have begun saving another 400,000 KWH per year by investing in Smart Technologies.
The final area that company has focused on is sustainability. In their e-commerce department, they optimized their packaging needs for shipping by 37%. They also eliminated the number of box types they used by 80%, thus eliminating the amount of waste generated. The e-commerce department also re-purposes packing materials from its incoming shipments by using them in their outgoing shipments.
In 2013, the company began implementing a way to reduce the amount of paper that is used in their stores. Some of these steps include using more recycled paper in its advertising, using paperless paychecks for employees, and e-mailing receipts to its customers.
Partnerships in the Community
Boscovs is active in its communities. One of the main ways it gives back is by hosting a Friends Helping Friends fundraiser which benefits local non-profit organizations. Each of the non-profit organizations sell $5 discount saving passes to a day in the store which offers 25% off almost all merchandise. All of the profits from selling the tickets go directly to the non-profit organizations which sell the tickets. Those who participate in the in-store event by buying tickets also enjoy refreshments, entertainment, and prizes at the stores. The event is organized by the Boscovs Corporate Relations office, which can be reached at 610-370-3704, or through e-mail at [email protected].
Throughout the year, the company also assists local charities. Stores hold food drives, clothing drives, and advertise other local fundraisers. The company also provides a way for schools to fundraise by providing them gift cards. Schools buy gift cards at a discount to their face value. The school then distributes the gift cards to sell at face value. The difference between the discount and face value is kept by the school as profit for its cause. Gift cards can be used in the stores or online. The company helps its local communities by helping its neighbors.
The company also sponsors a local Jazz Festival. The 28th anniversary of The Boscovs Berks Jazz Fest was held in Reading in April of 2018. It drew an estimated 35,000 to 40,000 people to the area. Many local businesses such as hotels and restaurants benefit from the tourism brought to the area by this festival.
More about Boscovs
Listed below is the headquarters and contact information for Boscovs department stores.
* Please note that closing times vary by location
In a time when many question whether department stores are a thing of the past, Boscovs stores are thriving. Its stores offer a wide variety of products and services, including gift cards. You can shop online, in-store, or over the phone by calling 1-800-284-8155.