Skip to main content

Special recognition

  • Albert Boscov
    Albert Boscov
Published March 07. 2013 05:02PM

Albert Boscov has some incredible accomplishments.

He has created a successful chain of department stores, helped to revitalize downtowns, donated generously to worthy causes, and even provided affordable housing for hundreds of families.

Tonight, Boscov, 83, will be honored for his many achievements.

He will become the first inductee into the newly established Pennsylvania "Retailers Hall of Fame."

The induction ceremony will occur at the Crowne Plaza Reading in Wyomissing, Berks County.

Gov. Tom Corbett and former Gov. Ed Rendell are among the dignitaries planning to attend the event.

Especially noteworthy of Boscov in regards to the department stores is that he not only initially nurtured the chain into becoming one of the largest family-owned retail chains in the country, he did it twice.

In 2006, he retired as chairman of Boscov's, a firm which was doing very well. The chain was purchased by another firm, but didn't do as well, with the economic crisis of 2008 getting much of the blame.

Boscov's filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Al Boscov and his brother-in-law, Edwin Lakin, couldn't bear to see what their family built fail, nor did they want to see the firm's 7,000 employees lose their jobs. So, they spent $300 million and repurchased the assets, bringing the chain out of bankruptcy.

Today, Boscov's has 41 stores in five states and tops $1 billion in sales annually. Two new stores are scheduled to open this year.

It was Al Boscov's father, Solomon, a Russian immigrant who came to Reading in 1911, and founded the store.

Solomon initially sold goods to farmers' wives. In 1918, he opened a dry goods store in Reading.

Both Al Boscov and Lakin joined the business full-time in 1955. By 1962, they began opening other stores.

While the business accomplishments are enough testament to warrant Boscov's induction into the Hall of Fame, other achievements accentuate his other stellar characteristics.

Besides the induction into the Hall of Fame, there will be the presentation of various other awards.

Boscov told one newspaper reporter he owes his community-mindedness to his father, who fled Russia's oppression of Jews.

"He had no ability to be educated and have a home (in Russia)," Boscov is quoted as saying. "When he came to America, he was so amazed. He always used to tell my sister and brothers that we had to pay America back. I'm hoping to live up to what he wanted."

In Reading, Boscov did more than become a successful retailer. His community involvement resulted in the formation of a nonprofit organization, Our City Reading, which slowed the spread of urban blight by restoring over 600 abandoned homes in the inner city and providing city residents with low cost, totally restored homeownership.

Our City Reading also built in downtown Reading the first new office building with 560 new workers, three Brownfield sites have been cleared for industry, and created over 1,000 jobs in the inner city.

His determination, cooperation, and creativeness extend beyond Reading.

He worked with former Gov. Robert P. Casey to establish a Boscov's store in the Steamtown Mall, providing a vital anchor for rehabilitating Scranton's downtown area, in the late 1980s.

In Wilkes-Barre, he helped to raise $3.5 million for purchasing and creating the F.M. Kirby Center for Performing Arts, which provides cultural events and concerts.

In Reading, he created the Goggle Works Center for the Arts, the largest in America, an IMAX, and 11 other theaters, and has started Restaurant Row.

He also started work on 30 subsidized work/live apartments connected to the Goggle Works for juried artists primarily from New York City and Philadelphia.

Our City Reading's largest project, a $52 million dollar Hilton Doubletree Hotel on Penn Street, will start construction this year.

Boscov's stores have also showcased many civic causes and programs, ranging from the 4-H to Black and Puerto Rican Heritage Festivals.

Boscov's also led the efforts to build a Senior Citizens Center in downtown Reading, and to purchase and equip a community center for inner city youth.

Boscov has donated money to Penn State Berks Campus for its library.

He provided funds to Genesius Theatre for restoration and the improvement of its main stage building in Reading. Not only did he help with the renovation of the theater, he performed there as Tevye from "Fiddler on the Roof" at Genesius's "Broadway Musical Revue."

While his vast accomplishments demonstrate his love and commitment to his business, his community, and his projects, his top priority remains his family.

His biography states, "Of all his accomplishments and achievements, Albert R. Boscov is most proud of his family: his wife, the former Eunice Cooper, and their three daughters and five grandchildren."

Classified Ads

Event Calendar


October 2017


Twitter Feed

Reader Photo Galleries