Intelligencer Journal/Lancaster New Era
A retailing giant in our midst Al Boscov has never been a man to sit on the sidelines in a crisis. So, when the department store that bears his family's name fell on hard times in 2008, "Mr. B" came out of retirement to right the ship.
This success, coupled with his more than five decades in retailing in Pennsylvania (and elsewhere), make Boscov the obvious choice to become the first person to be named to the Pennsylvania Retail Hall of Fame.
Boscov received the honor on Thursday at a Pennsylvania Retailers' Association gala in Reading, where the family business got its start.
Among the dignitaries who attended the event were Gov. Tom Corbett and former governors Ed Rendell and Tom Ridge.
Boscov, 83, joined the family business in Reading in 1955, along with brother-in-law Edward Laken, and began to open additional stores.
Since then, the company has grown into one of the largest family-owned retailers in the nation, with 41 stores in five states and $1 billion in annual sales.
Much of the credit for this goes to Al Boscov's leadership, vision, pioneering spirit and sales and marketing savvy. (Generations of shoppers fondly recall the iconic slogan, "Did you Boscov today?") -- all this, along with a warm and engaging personality.
Those qualities were sorely tested in 2008, when the company found itself in bankruptcy protection just two years after Boscov retired.
But Boscov suited up again, and the company has come roaring back, preserving the family business -- and some 7,000 jobs.
Incidentally, also helped by Boscov's remarkable turnaround were newspapers like ours, since Al Boscov was and is a big fan of print advertising. (Thanks, Mr. B.)
Boscov also has been a steadfast supporter of the Reading community and beyond. He was the prime mover behind "Our City Reading," a nonprofit housing agency which renovated more than 500 homes and sold them to first-time buyers.
Boscov's philanthropy extends to the Penn State-Berks campus for its library and Reading's Genesius Theatre, where he once appeared as Tevye in "Fiddler on the Roof."
Next month, the Philadelphia-based HIAS Pennsylvania, a non-profit agency that provides legal and social services to immigrants and refugees, will honor Boscov -- whose father, Solomon, was an immigrant from Russia who fled that country's oppression of Jews -- for his contributions to that region's economic vitality.
More recognition -- which Mr. B. richly deserves.