The Boyertown Area Times - - LO­CAL NEWS -

de­vel­op­ment of the City of Read­ing.

Where it all be­gan

Boscov was born in 1929, the youngest son of Solomon and Ethel Boscov. Boscov’s Depart­ment store orig­i­nally started as a mo­bile busi­ness in 1914, with Solomon tak­ing mer­chan­dise to the end of the trol­ley line and walk­ing from farm to farm — sell­ing to farm­ers and sleep­ing in their barns. He opened his first brick and mor­tar store in 1918 — at Ninth and Pike streets in Read­ing.

In an in­ter­view with Dig­i­tal First Me­dia in 2014 to com­mem­o­rate the com­pany’s 100th an­niver­sary, Boscov said he wanted to work in the store by the time he was 6 years old, ad­ding that he learned much by watch­ing his fa­ther work.

“He was a very re­mark­able per­son — in the sense that he was con­cerned for oth­ers … He would try his best to help when he could,” Al­bert said dur­ing that in­ter­view.

Boscov is a grad­u­ate of Read­ing High School and grad­u­ated from Drexel Univer­sity with a busi­ness de­gree. He of­fi­cially joined the com­pany in 1954, af­ter serv­ing in the U.S. Navy dur­ing the Korean War.

The orig­i­nal store at Ninth and Pike streets was ren­o­vated and en­larged, and the com­pany be­gan to ex­pand.

In 1962 Boscov’s West opened in Sink­ing Spring, fol­lowed in 1965 by Boscov’s North. The orig­i­nal Read­ing store was lost in a fire in 1966, but in Novem­ber 1967, Boscov’s East opened in Ex­eter. On that same day of cel­e­brat­ing a new store, came word the Boscov’s West store had caught fire. Within one year, how­ever, a new Boscov’s was opened on the same site.

Boscov be­came co-pres­i­dent of the com­pany, along with his brother-in-law Ed­win Lakin in 1969, fol­low­ing the death of Solomon Boscov. The pair be­gan ad­ding au­di­to­ri­ums to stores, fes­ti­vals and cre­ated the still-used “Did You Boscov To­day?”

Boscov be­gan bring­ing Hol­ly­wood leg­ends to play the store au­di­to­ri­ums and ap­pear at store open­ings. Dorothy Lamour, Henny Young­man, Rita Moreno, Mickey Rooney, Cyd Charisse, Morey Am­s­ter­dam, Sophia Loren — all made ap­pear­ances.

“They were just as tal­ented, but Hol­ly­wood didn’t want them any­more,” he said in 2014. “As word got around, we started to pick up quite a num­ber of peo­ple.”

The Boscov’s chain con­tin­ued its ex­pan­sion in Penn­syl­va­nia be­fore ex­pand­ing to New York, Delaware,

“While Al­bert was well-known as a re­tailer and a driv­ing force be­hind sev­eral projects in down­town Read­ing, he should be equally re­mem­bered for his work as a hu­man­i­tar­ian.

New Jer­sey and Mary­land. By 2005 the chain had 39 stores do­ing more than $1 bil­lion in sales.

A time of tran­si­tion

In 2006, Boscov and Lakin de­cided to re­tire. Re­tire­ment did not mean Boscov stopped work­ing, how­ever. He con­tin­ued his civic and phil­an­thropic work.

He founded and led the non­profit Our City Read­ing Inc. to as­sist the city to re­store aban­doned homes. Un­der his lead­er­ship more than 600 fam­i­lies had the op­por­tu­nity to own and live in a new home.

He led the ef­fort to equip a Se­nior Cit­i­zens Cen­ter in down­town Read­ing and in 2006 he opened the Gog­gle-Works, the na­tion’s largest cen­ter for the arts. In 2016 he opened the Hil­ton Dou­bleTree Ho­tel in down­town Read­ing.

In ad­di­tion, Boscov’s hosts non-profit pro­grams that gen­er­ate more than $600,000 a year for thou­sands of very wor­thy or­ga­ni­za­tions.

Shortly af­ter Boscov and Lakin re­tired, the chain, un­der the di­rec­tion of Ken­neth Lakin — Ed­win’s son and Al­bert’s nephew — pur­chased 10 mall lo­ca­tions from Fed­er­ated Depart­ment Stores.

“They didn’t have the fi­nanc­ing for that. Maybe if every­thing had gone per­fectly it would have been all right,” Boscov said in 2014. “But it didn’t. The econ­omy tanked just about then and they went into bank­ruptcy and were go­ing to be liq­ui­dated.”

Boscov said he was em­bar­rassed by the Chap­ter 11 bank­ruptcy and felt he had let cus­tomers, sup­pli­ers and co-work­ers down.

He and Ed­win Lakin put to­gether a $305 mil­lion deal to buy the busi­ness back, and in De­cem­ber 2008, Boscov sat in a court­room in Delaware — of­fer­ing the only bid for the com­pany. The com­pany emerged from bank­ruptcy in 2009.

In 2013, Boscov was in­ducted into the Penn­syl­va­nia Re­tail­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion Hall of Fame — the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s first in­ductee.

In 2015, Boscov made the de­ci­sion to step out of the CEO role once again, nam­ing com­pany Vice Chair­man Jim Boscov as CEO. Al­bert Boscov con­tin­ued to hold the ti­tle of chair­man.

Boscov’s burial will be pri­vate.

A pub­lic memo­rial ser­vice will be an­nounced at a later date.

-- Kevin Mur­phy, Berks County Com­mu­nity Foun­da­tion


Al­bert Boscov in 2014 as Boscov’s Depart­ment Store LLC was cel­e­brat­ing the 100th an­niver­sary of the com­pany. Boscov passed away Feb. 10 at age 87.


Al­bert Boscov smiles at the Ex­eter Boscov’s store in 2014 to mark the com­pany’s 100th an­niver­sary. Boscov passed away Feb. 10 at age 87.


Al­bert Boscov, right with Sophia Loren in 1985.

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