Discount Store History
Discount Stores > History of Discount Retailing
Two Guys From HarrisonIn 1946, two brothers from Harrison, New Jersey — Sidney and Herbert Hubschman — founded the Two Guys from Harrison discount store in their local town of Harrison. During the ensuing years, Two Guys grew to operate hundreds of stores in the Northeast plus Illinois and California. Many of these stores sold hardware and major appliances and featured auto parts and service as well. Some of their stores also sold discount groceries; these stores were the forerunners of today's retail emporiums like Super Target stores and Wal-Mart Supercenters. Two Guys continued retail operations until the early 1980s, when its discount stores fell victim to an economic recession.
E. J. KorvetteEugene Ferkauf was a Jewish World War II veteran who believed that people preferred to save money on their purchases, and he set out to accommodate this preference by founding E. J. Korvette's in 1948. An urban legend states that the name stood for "Eleven Jewish Korean Veterans", but this is obviously inaccurate! According to Ferkauf, "I had a name picked out for the store, E. J. Korvette. 'E' is for Eugene, my first name, and 'J' stands for Joe Swillenberg, my associate and my pal. As for 'Korvette', it was originally meant to be spelled with a 'C' after the Canadian marine sub-destroyer, simply because I thought the name had a euphonious ring. When it came time to register the name, we found it was illegal to use a naval class identity, so we had to change the spelling to 'K'."
E. J. Korvette is generally cited as the first discount store that did not arise from 5 & 10 cent store roots. Korvette's was soon joined by many other regional discount stores such as Zayres, Arlans, Gibson's, and Two Guys from Harrison. Many consumers were attracted to these low price outlets despite the minimal level of ambience and service these stores offered. At first, Korvette's prices were fairly low and minimal customer services were provided. Gradually, over time, as their clientele prospered, Korvette starting raising prices and offering more services, becoming more like a traditional department store. In this crowded market, Korvette's was not able to successfully compete, and finally declared bankruptcy in 1980.
Discount Retailing TodayJust as families flock to Ikea, Wal-Mart, and Target today, the post war families that initiated the baby boom generation found these large stores exciting arrivals in the new shopping centers and suburban strip malls that were appearing around the old urban centers during the 1950s.
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History of Discount Retailing