Posted by: Gurindam Jiwa | Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Boscov’s Files for Bankruptcy

Boscov's LogoAnother one down the memory lane.

When Boscov’s opened it’s Binghamton store 24 summers ago at the corner of Court and Water streets, there was a huge promotion with even some Hollywood personalities taking part. I still remember one night, seeing David Copperfield with his entourage walked out of the downtown McDonald’s as I was walking in. I even went to one of the Soupy Sales shows.

Boscov's in downtown Binghamton
Boscov’s in downtown Binghamton,
courtesy of The Press & Sun Bulettin.

Binghamton then was going through some quiet time, economic wise. When Boscov’s came to town, downtown Binghamton became more alive. I even had my own Boscov’s Card.

During the comedy show, Soupy Sales noticed my presence. How could you not notice the only Chinese looking Asian in the small hall?

Soupy was doing his regular stand up routine, but no pie in the face, though. Then suddenly he told this one Chinaman joke. I was the only one in the crowd laughing myself silly. The rest of the audience just gave a blank stare. Only years later I realized that Soupy Sales had actually told that joke just for me.

Soupy Sales on the Ed Sullivan Show, September 12, 1965
Soupy Sales singing The Mouse on the Ed Sullivan Show on September 12, 1965, The Beatles’ 4th day in the US.

For the benefit of the doubt, Soupy would hit on everybody during his routine; a typical clean stand up comic act. So for him to tell that joke during that show, he made my day. Thank you, Mr. Supman.

I can’t remember the exact wording of the joke, and it is unlike the several variations that you can find on the Internet, but the way Soupy Sales told it that day was something like this:

Three guys went camping. Two white guys and a Chinese guy. When they arrived at the site, they decided to delegate some work. One guy said he would set up the tent, and asked the other guy to go find some wood to make the fire. He then asked the Chinese guy to go get some supplies.

After a while, the guy finished setting up the tent, and the other guy finished collecting some woods for the fire. But the Chinese guy never came back. The guys got worried and went to look for the Chinese guy. As they were looking, looking, and looking … then suddenly out of the bushes this Chinese jumped out and yelled loudly, “SUPPLIIIEEES!!”

And here is a piece of news by Bloomberg that came out about 11 hours ago (other news here and here) that brought about this nostalgia:

Boscov’s Department Stores Seek Bankruptcy Protection (Update4)

By Dawn McCarty and Lauren Coleman-Lochner

Aug. 4 (Bloomberg) — Boscov’s Inc., the 9,500-employee department-store chain founded in 1911 in Reading, Pennsylvania, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in Wilmington, Delaware, today, citing decreased consumer spending.

Boscov’s, which said in court papers that it’s the biggest family-owned full-service department store chain in the U.S., will immediately close 10 of its 49 stores. The company said it will borrow as much as $250 million from a group of lenders led by Bank of America Corp. to help it restructure.

The collapse of the housing market and increased food and energy costs have led to “a decline in the discretionary spending by consumers upon which the debtors’ business depends,” Michael Hughes, Boscov’s executive vice president of capital development, said in court papers. The company has stores in six states, mostly in Pennsylvania.

A pullback in consumer spending has contributed to more than a dozen retail bankruptcy filings in the past year, including Mervyn’s LLC, which operates most of its 177 stores in California, on July 29. It joins Goody’s Family Clothing Inc., Linens n’ Things and Sharper Image Corp.

Auction Procedures

Boscov’s is seeking court approval of auction procedures for the selection of a liquidation firm to assist with store-closing sales. It is requesting an Aug. 12 auction. The company said it will liquidate about $34 million in merchandise at the sales to be commenced by Aug. 15.

The retailer has an agency agreement with Gordon Brothers Retail Partners LLC for about $35 million and is seeking a $50,000 termination fee if Gordon Brothers isn’t the winning bidder. Other bids must exceed Gordon’s bid by at least $75,000, according to court papers.

Boscov’s listed $538 million in assets and $479 million in debts as of May 3 in the court filing.

Regional department store chains are more vulnerable to tightening credit and cuts in allowances from suppliers than national chains, said Burt P. Flickinger III, managing director of Strategic Resource Group.

Flickinger called Boscov’s a “solidly run” retailer that has suffered from a concentration of stores in economically struggling communities.

‘Threw Away Customers’

Department stores “basically threw away their main customers” as they cut back on service over the years, said Britt Beemer, chairman of America’s Research Group in Charleston, South Carolina. For regional chains, “their history in the communities is their biggest advantage,” Beemer said.

James Schaye, chief executive officer of Hudson Capital Partners, a retail liquidation firm, agreed. “Sometimes the larger department stores lose touch with their consumer.”

Schaye called Belk Inc., a Charlotte, North Carolina-based merchant with more than 300 stores, an example of a “very well- run” family department-store chain.

Boscov’s and Belk’s are “in excellent locations, but they’re still in malls,” Beemer said, where customers have cut back on purchases.

Boscov’s will close five stores in Pennsylvania, at Monroeville Mall in Monroeville, Montgomery Mall in North Wales, Oxford Valley Mall in Langhorne, South Hills Village Mall near Pittsburgh and Harrisburg East Mall in Harrisburg.

It will close three Maryland stores, at Marley Station Mall in Glen Burnie, Owings Mills Mall in Owing Mills, and White Marsh Mall in Baltimore.

The stores at Monmouth Mall in Eatontown, New Jersey, and Piedmont Mall in Danville, Virginia, are also closing.

Solomon Boscov

Boscov’s history dates to 1911, when founder Solomon Boscov moved to Reading and sold goods to surrounding towns by horse and wagon.

The company filed for bankruptcy protection with seven affiliates after failing to refinance its debt, it said. Boscov’s said it had sales of $1.25 billion last year. Boscov’s Web site lists “refurbishing plans for several existing stores as well as more opportunities for new Boscov’s Stores on the drawing board.”

Boscov’s $250 million loan will consist of a $225 million senior revolving credit facility to be funded with as much as a $25 million “last out revolver advance.”

The 40 largest creditors without collateral backing their claims are owed a total of $32.6 million, court papers show. The three largest unsecured claimholders are Jones Apparel Group Inc., owed $3.1 million; Kellwood, owed $2.6 million; and VF1, owed $1.3 million.

The case is In Re Boscov’s Inc., 08-11637, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington).

To contact the reporters on this story: Dawn McCarty in Wilmington, Delaware, at; Lauren Coleman-Lochner in New York at
Last Updated: August 4, 2008 13:35 EDT



  1. Excellent Blog. I’ve been reading along and just wanted to say hi. I will be reading more of your posts in the future.

    – Jason.

    Thank you, Jason. You’re not saying that just trying to put pressure on me, are you? 😀

  2. […] Boscov’s Files for Bankruptcy […]

  3. Assalammualaikum;

    Kalau tak silap; Pasaraya Boscov’s ni kat tempat tunggu bas di Downtown Binghamton. Dah nak tutup le.

    Wa’alaikumussalaam Jock,

    Yang Binghamton tu masih buka lagi. Cadang nak tutup yang cawangan lain dulu. Terima kasih sudi komen. Apa khabar?

    Tn Hj Jock, ramai juga yang baca posting ni, tapi mu sorang je yang berani letak komen kat sini. Syabas, dan terima kasih.

    Yang lain tu kalau ada pun sekadar SMS atau private e-mel sahaja.

    Mungkin dah meluat kot. 😛

  4. Assalammualaikum;
    kawe tua doh, tok berapa ingat doh gambaran binghampton.
    tapi bagus jugak demo tolong peringat kawe.
    btw, jock jumpe pulok sini. kawe rindu nok gi pulok sane.


    Time kaseh la kawae Tn Hj Jedi ni, kerano sudi boh komeng kat blog ambe hok tak de ggape nih. Ambe dok haghak la ssaing-ssaing lame tu gak boleh joing same-same bui komeng.

    Tok sah nok malu lah, buleh guno namo samarang. Bia kite-kite jah pakat kenal.

    Ado oghae kate Binghamton lo ni doh machang nok mapuh doh. Mukin kito boleh pakat gi rama-rama bui hidup semula.


    Mukin dok, deh 😀

    Kire tuo-tuo pakat ggi Mmekoh la pulok. Ambe ni dok tahu la bile lagi nok buleh gi. Dok niat sokmo.

    Tulung ddo’o deh biar ambe pung buleh gi etek 😥

  5. Assalamualaikum Tn. mazlan & Tn. Hj. Jedi;

    Apakhabar semua? Cerita pasal Binghamton ni memang ade niat nak kesana. InshaAllah dlam bulan Dec or january cause ade nak gi NY ikut teman lama dari Brigeport. Most probably in January sebab kalau Dec kesian anak2 cuti sekolah. Kalau jadi gi, InsaAllah boleh ambil photo BCC, SUNY, IBM, Cornell, DLL.

    Saya memang selalu doakan kawan-kawan dapat menunaikan fardu Haji. Pergilah bila badan masih sihat dan kudrat masih kuat. Dari pengalaman yang lalu kesian tengok Warga Emas kat sana terutama yang tidak ditemani oleh anak-anak.


    Allahu Akbar,

    Wa’alaikumussalaam dan Terima kasih Tn Hj Jock jawab komen kita-kita nih. Selain dari poket, semuanya sihat insya’Allah.

    Untuk makluman yang baca komen-komen ni, Tn Hj Jock dan Tn Hj Jedi ada berjumpa masa di Mekah dulu. Masa jumpa tu, tengah buat apa ye? He he … tak pe.

    Tapi perjumpaan tu lah yang buat teman-teman lain dapat berhubung semula dgn Jock nih. Ada la pahala tu sambungkan silaturrahim, insya’Allah.

    Eh kalau pergi US, nak kirim Sambal Badjak dan Sambal Olek lah. Boleh tak? Dapat sebotol kecik satu pun jadilah. Nostalgia zaman bujang punya pasal. Sambal Badjak Cap Ayam Huy Foong Foods tu dah obsolete, so yang Conimex® tu pun tak pe lah. Nak tunjuk kat isteri. 🙂

    Jedi masa nak balik dulu, ada mintak dia belikan, tak boleh harap langsung! 😀

    Ada pulak member tu dapat belikan, tapi dia masukkan dalam hand luggage, orang Kastam suruh buang. No liquid allowed! 😡

    Kempunan … 😛

  6. Assalamualaikum Mazlan,

    It is a pleasure to come and read your piece here. All along, I know you have that talent to write superb articles, more so with your strong memory to recall event more than 20 years ago. All that is left I can remember about Binghamton is Goethe, George St, Chenango St., Johnson City and probably Hashim’s blue mustang. I was there 81-83, was Boscov already there?The only thing about downtown Binghamton I can recall is the MacDonald, which I frequent during transit for fish fillet and that bank (First City or Marine Midland?) Anyway, I am not bad as Jedi who spell Binghamton with a “p”. Sorry Jedi, saja nak melawak, lama tak jumpa. Hope you are well with families.

    Jock, have we come across before? Probably you came after 83. Anyway salam perkenalan.


    Wa’alaikumussalaam Tn Hj Ir Roslan,

    • Terima kasih masuk beri komen. Ada yang malu, main SMS atau e-mel peribadi je. Komenlah, guna nama samaran pun tak pe.

    http://notenoughtimeforthat? That’s all right, because taking care of power plant is more important. If power goes out, bloggers can’t blog.

    • Yes, I can recall some events 20 years ago. But I can’t remember where I put my glasses 30 seconds back. These short term memories are now killing me. Not to mention the eye sight. The bifocal is no longer useful. Probably need to carry together a telescope, a magnifying glass, and a microscope. Or may be I should register myself at that School for The Blinds in Brickfields, for old days’ sake. And let’s not even talk about my hearing.

    • Kalau nak jack tu, jangan tinggi sangat, nanti bila jatuh, macam nangka busuk. I used to be a jack of all trade, master of none. Now, I’m not even a jack @#%! Did you know I once registered for a remedial English course in BCC? The lecturer couldn’t believe my handwriting, when she inspected my daily journal. She showed it to everybody. Now I just use keyboard. In that course, there was a lesson on how to have conversation with people you just met. I still carry that lesson with me until today.

    • Boscov’s in Binghamton opened in late Summer 1984. Jock’s batch arrived for Fall 1983. He was BIMA’s President in … Summer 1984? Aah, there goes that strong memory that you just wrote about. Well, the memory was manufactured in 1963. Even the warranty has expired. 😉

    • Of course, Goethe St and George St can never be forgotten. Tempat jatuh lagi dikenang.

    • I once saw that exact same model Blue Mustang filling up at the Mobil Station just before PLUS Sg Besi Toll going south. It was on the way to a motor show, and it was in mint condition, although the owner said the engine was no longer original. It was so nostalgic, I had to approach the owner. Several years ago. Yes, that memory thing again.

    • How’s your house in Bandar Baru Bangi? May be you can rent it to Tn Hj Basit.

    • Cakap dengan engineer ni kena style engineer lah, main point point je.

    Thanks Roslan for coming. Please come again.

  7. memang ingat sangat boscov tu. one hari raya we all pakat pakai kain pelikat dan baju melayu dan walk around dalam boscov buat dek aje. semua mat saleh terkebil-kebil tengok.

    ismail@karim 1985-86

    Yang pakai kain pelikat tu, my gang, too, did the same thing once. I think we made sure that we also wore trousers underneath. 😀

    Agaknya dia orang terkebil-kebil tu, sama macam kita terkebil-kebil tengok Bangla kat KLCC bila musim cuti kot? 😀

    Thanks for coming. Please come again. I don’t write about the old Binghamton very much, although may be I should.

    Bila turun KL, may be we should meet.

  8. Kalau ramai melayu di Binghamton, NY, macam dulu in the early 1980s, Boscov will be thriving. Especially melayu yang banyak $$$

    Melayu memang banyak duit, Sheikh.

    Bila Raya, bukan main ramai lagi Melayu shopping. Bila Christmas, bukan main ramai lagi Melayu shopping. Bila Gong Xi Fa Cai, bukan main ramai lagi Melayu shopping. Bila Deepavali, bukan main ramai lagi Melayu shopping. Bila Vesak, bukan main ramai lagi Melayu shopping. Itu belum lagi cerita Hanukkah, Easter, Thanksgiving, Mother’s Day, …

    Mana orang Melayu ada susah, Sheikh…

    Although come to think of it, each Melayu in those days got the same pay, around USD410 a month. But some always have more $$$ than others.

    Amboiii hebat nama samaran Sheikh, Y saja no…

    Terima kasih la singgah komen.

  9. USD250 million reprieve notwithstanding, anybody can go bankrupt if this happens often enough. From MyFOX Philadelphia News:

    Robbers Swipe Rings Worth $16K From Boscov’s

    Last Edited: Thursday, 07 Aug 2008, 4:06 PM EDT
    Created: Thursday, 07 Aug 2008, 3:55 PM EDT

    Police said a pair of robbers swiped two rings from the jewelry counter at the Boscov’s in the Plymouth Meeting Mall.

    The robbery occurred at 10:35 a.m. Wednesday morning inside the store.

    Police said the two men, posing as customers, engaged the sales clerk in a discussion about two rings, the combined value of which was over $16,000.

    According to Plymouth Township police, one of the men grabbed the rings and fled from the mall. No vehicle was seen.

    The first ring was described as 2-carat diamond and 14K gold “Past, Present & Future Ring” valued at $6,249. The other is also a ” Past, Present & Future” diamond ring with 2.5-carat weight stones as well as yellow gold shank and platinum prongs.

    One robber was described as a black male in his 30s or early 40s, approximately 5 feet 8 inches tall, weighing 170 pounds with a medium build and a receding hairline. The second person is also a black male in his 20s, possible a scar on his face, approximately 6 feet or 6 feet 2 inches tall and weighs approximately 190 to 200 pounds, police said.

    Anyone who may know the identity of these individuals is asked to contact Detective Jeffrey McGee at 610-279-1900.

  10. Dear Mazlan,

    Boscov is ‘d’ place to hang about sementara tunggu bas ke Johnson City. They do sell something yang I can’t get anyway and up until now memang ‘benda’ tu susah nak cari. Can’t find in Malaysia. If I do go to Boscov memang I nak cari ‘benda’ tu.

    Thanks for keeping in touch.

    Waaa Sham,

    I thought you’d never show up. Thank you for coming and joining the others in commenting.

    Apa ‘benda’ yang susah sangat nak cari tu?

    For me now, yang susah nak cari cuma Sambal Oelek dengan Sambal Badjak je. He he …

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