"We're a family-owned business," said CEO Jim Boscov. "We can make decisions to please the customer, not the stock market."
The common word heard to describe department stores these days is “declining.” But one chain that dates back to 1918 is expanding.
That was the year that Russian immigrant Solomon Boscov opened the first Boscov’s store in Reading, Penn. This week his grandson Jim Boscov announced signing the lease on the family-owned chain’s 50th store, at Meadowbrook Mall in Bridgeport, W.Va.
The Meadowbrook Mall location will be Boscov’s first store in West Virginia. The company's other 49 stores are found in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Ohio.
“We have the advantage of being a family-owned business. That means we can make decisions and work to please the customer, not the stock market,” said Jim Boscov, chairman and CEO. “We still believe in the traditional department store, where in one shopping trip, you can find everything you want.”
The latest Boscov’s is set to open this fall in a 151,000-sq.-ft. space at Meadowbrook, a Cafaro property. It will introduce the Mountain State to the merchandising philosophy that the company claims has kept it going for more than 100 years: fashions in both traditional labels and designer names, free gift wrap supplies, and a huge full-service candy department.
Boscov’s opened its first store outside of Pennsylvania at the Dover Mall in Delaware in 1982 and the company slowly continued expanding. often taking over the empty spaces of failed department stores.
In 2006, Solomon Boscov’s son Albert retired as CEO and was succeeded by his nephew Kenneth Lakin, who stepped up the pace. He acquired 10 stores vacated by Federated in 2008, but his timing was unfortunate. The Great Recession hit, the stores performed badly, and Boscov’s filed for Chapter 11.
Albert Boscov returned to the helm, pulled the chain out of bankruptcy protection, and slowly began rebuilding Boscov’s until he died at the age of 87 in 2017. Jim Boscov, his nephew, then assumed the chief role and slowed down the expansion pace with a goal of opening one new store a year.
The Boscov family has always been actively involved with non-profit organizations within the communities its stores serve, and has already announced plans for a special event to benefitting local charities at its Meadowbrook grand opening.
“North Central West Virginia is going to see some very aggressive retailing that combines fun, fashion, community partnership, entertainment and service with jaw-dropping pricing throughout the store,” Boscov said.
Based in Reading, Penn., Boscov's is the largest family-owned department store chain in the United States.